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Cotton Australia statement on fish deaths at Menindee

12 January 2019

But Richard Kingsford, the director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, said it was a disaster that had been many years in the making because too much water had been diverted from the system for agriculture.

Mr McBride said: "This is nothing to do with drought, this is a man-made disaster".

"Dead fish, a massive stink..."

"It's devastating to see the hundreds of thousands of fish killed earlier this week and we believe this is one of the largest fish kills ever seen", Mr Blair later said in a statement.

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

The mass fish kill came to national attention on Tuesday when an emotional video by local farmers Dick Arnold and Rob McBride went viral, racking up millions of views.

"In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly hard task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts".

Such a move, part of the Sustainable Diversion Limits projects, would "further reduce water flows in the lower Darling River and destroy fish breeding grounds in the Darling River", Labor said, adding it had "committed to abandon this plan to prevent further ecological destruction".

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In mid-December, she reiterated that vow, telling an audience that she would do the job "as long as I can do it full-steam". The Supreme Court said at the time she underwent a "pulmonary lobectomy" resulting in the removal of two malignant nodules.

Prof Williams admits it's hard to manage but warns there'll be more fish deaths if there isn't a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in the amount of water extracted.

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented", Mr Daley said.

Michael Murray, general manager of Cotton Australia, sought to counter criticism of irrigators and his industry for the plight at Menindee, say the state's cotton output would halve this year.

"Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1 per cent of what can be planted in a very good season". 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.

Water has been released from the Menindee Lakes to South Australia under the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's approval and because of the drought there's been nothing to replenish the system, Mr Blair says.

Buckingham was trying to highlight the recent death of around a million fish in the Darling River, and was trying to point blame at the Nationals for their handling of water policies.

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

Cotton Australia statement on fish deaths at Menindee