'One million' fish die in Australian river in 'ecological catastrophe'

Murray Cod Australia says no effect from Darling River fish deaths

In a video that has been viewed almost 4 million times, Menindee resident Dick Arnold, right, and rancher Rob McBride say the fish kills are "a manmade disaster".

Water management in Australia's third-longest river must be completely reformed, a leading environmental professor says, as the blame game over a mass fish death event in far western NSW intensifies.

The NSW Government is in talks with the Commonwealth about operating rules and water-sharing arrangements, he added.

Cotton Australia said drought was affecting the river system and that the industry was also suffering, forecasting its crop this season would be half of the previous year's.

"It's a national disgrace, this once magnificent Murray cod is dead, and it absolutely stinks".

Her comments come a day after the minister for primary industries and water, Niall Blair, was criticised for bypassing a large gathering of people waiting to ask him questions on a visit to Menindee.

The Menindee Lakes, which are about four times the size of Sydney Harbour, were drained twice in four years and are sitting at between 2.6 per cent and 4 per cent capacity, he said.

It's just put out a release to the ASX confirming its business is not affected by the Murray River cod-die off which has stolen the social media spotlight in the past couple of days, because it grows Murray cod in tanks, not the Darling River.

"The [Coalition parties] have been repeatedly warned by far west residents, community groups, scientists and Labor that their water policies would cause devastation on the Darling River".

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"You can not dismiss the fact there is a drought and a lack of water".

Millions of fish in the lower Murray river system have washed up dead as a result of a blue green algal bloom in the Menindee Lakes region. The dying algae worsened already low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, pushing many fish beyond their tolerance levels.

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented".

"This mass fish kill should be a wake up call for Australia".

"They (irrigators) are using our water from a fragile ecosystem", he said.

That's not to say Murray Cod Australia hasn't experienced its own disastrous codtastrophe.

"Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world; but as an industry we are growing very exhausted of being "the whipping boy" for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought".

Peter Hannam writes on environment issues for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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