FISH KILL: Belongil Creek littered with dead and dying fish.
FISH KILL: Belongil Creek littered with dead and dying fish. Contributed

Fury at repeat fish kill in Tallow Creek

BYRON Shire Council has been accused of deliberately killing more than a million fish in Tallow Creek by opening the estuary mouth at a time when a fish kill would be the inevitable consequence.

"On Friday Council commenced digging a channel to open the estuary due to complaints of gardens planted in wetlands being inundated upstream,” Byron conservationist Dailan Pugh said.

"At the time there was no rain and thus it was certain that without inflows of fresh oxygenated water the draining would result in water becoming deoxygenated and fish suffocating, as has occurred time and time again.

"Those reponsible made no attempt what-so-ever to monitor the kill or intervene to stop the pain and suffering of so many fish. It was a deliberate and callous act of environmental vandalism. Someone should be prosecuted.

"By Saturday morning the inevitable consequences were obvious with thousands of mullet, bream, whiting, flathead and eels dead on the banks and gasping for air in the shallows. Counting all the fry over a million fish were killed.

"Byron Shire Council were nowhere to be seen, and despite its being a Marine Park the Marine Parks Authority were AWOL. The consequences were predictable but they simply couldn't care less.”

The NPWS, together with locals, used nets, buckets and a wheelbarrow to rescue over a thousand fish trapped in a rapidly drying pool.

"You would have thought that with all the millions of fish killed by estuary openings over the years that there would be monitoring and an emergency response process by now,” Mr Pugh said.

"Most importantly it is clear that Council's strategy of opening the estuary when it reaches a pre-defined height irrespective of the likelihood of fish kills needs to be rethought. Council also needs to take into account sea-level rises due to climate heating to develop a long term humane strategy.”

Byron Council has been contacted for comment.

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