NSW fish deaths may extend Murray inquiry

NSW fish deaths may extend Murray inquiry

"This is what you get when you leave the National Party in charge of water in Australia", he said.

But he is suddenly overcome by nausea and apologises before he starts retching and walks off to vomit off-camera. "Look at this", Mr Buckingham said, as he retched while holding a rotting fish.

His daughter, Kate McBride, who is also a farmer, added: "They have survived that many droughts, and the highs and lows of it all, but the one thing they haven't been able to survive is this mismanagement".

"I felt so sick that I panicked and jumped in the river to escape it - as bad as it is!"

Scientists argue mismanagement of the river system is to blame although the NSW government insists the ongoing drought is a key factor.

"The recent fish deaths in the Barwon-Darling river system at Menindee was a devastating sight".

"In the past six months there's been 30 gigalitres in the system - on an average year there is 4,000 gigalitres", he told AAP on Wednesday.

"Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little-to-no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths".

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

"It's not corruption. That's a load of garbage", he tells Steve Price.

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Over the weekend, as many as a million fish died in the Darling River.

Some experts to fear whole populations of local native fish have been wiped out.

"This is the result of draining the Menindee Lakes twice in four years, killing the system".

Up to a million fish have died in a 40 kilometre stretch of the waterway at Menindee Lakes this week.

Days on from Sunday's discovery of the huge fish kill, fisheries staff have mostly left and the bulk of the corpses of bony herring, perches and Murray Cod are disintegrating or sinking from view.

Arnold says members of the government "have to be bloody disgusted with yourself, politicians and cotton grower manipulators".

Ranchers and other residents say government water policies are the real cause.

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

Proprietary technology to monitor water quality "significantly reduces the risk of fish mortality events such as those now occurring on the Darling River".

The immediate cause of the mass fish kill is believed to be a sudden drop in temperature that killed algal blooms in the water, depleting it of oxygen and causing fish to die.