Darling River Fish Rescue – Behind the News

This is a big old fishing expedition
in New South Wales, but don’t worry, little guys – you’re not going to end up
on a plate. It’s a rescue mission,
a modern-day Noah’s Ark, except without the ark and the two-by-two thing
and the flooding. I mean, fish like water,
but you get the idea. MAN: We’ve managed
to reach 100 fish in one day, so, hopefully,
we can do that every day, and that would put us up
around 400 fish for the week. It’s a massive effort
to save as many fish as possible from what
the New South Wales government has described as a fish…
(ECHOES) ..Armageddon. (CLEARS HER THROAT) It sounds ominous, and it kind of is. You might remember seeing pictures
like this earlier in the year. Another large cod. It’s perished. Up to a million fish died
in parts of the Murray-Darling because of algal blooms – a type of bacteria
that leaches the oxygen out of water. Fish are like us – they need oxygen. Um, and as that water quality
deteriorates, often, oxygen is something
that gets depleted, um, and as that disappears,
basically, yeah, the fish will…will
more or less suffocate. The algae grows when
that water isn’t flowing properly, and scientists say
it’s one of the signs of a river system in crisis. The Murray-Darling stretches
all the way from Queensland through New South Wales and the ACT, then down to Victoria
and South Australia, and it’s Australia’s biggest
and most important river system, bringing life to
the hot, dry centre of the country. The farms here provide about a third
of Australia’s food supplies, and a lot of them are irrigated
with water taken from the river. But for decades,
there have been arguments between states, farmers and towns
over how the water is shared around, especially in times of drought. States downstream
have accused states upstream of taking too much water out for growing things
like cotton and nuts… ..and leaving others
without enough water and hurting the river. That’s why, in 2007, Australia’s government created a plan
to take care of the river and an agency to oversee it, but some say it hasn’t worked. In the past few weeks, there have been protests
along the river with some farmers saying
they’re being left to suffer with no water,
even though the river is flowing, and that the water
still isn’t being shared fairly. Some experts also reckon
the basin plan hasn’t done enough to protect the river from the effects
of climate change. The Basin Authority says
that’s not true, and the federal government says it’s the drought
that’s causing the problems and only rain can fix it. In the meantime,
the New South Wales government has announced
a $10 million fish rescue package to try to make sure
what happened last summer doesn’t happen again. So, that’s why the whole
Noah’s Ark thing is going on. Hundreds of native fish,
like golden perch and Murray cod, some up to 25 years old,
are being scooped up and relocated. Our fishy friends will go to
other, healthier parts of the river, or to hatcheries,
where they’ll be cared for until the water starts flowing again. While many are hoping it’ll help, others say a lot more
needs to be done to save the river and everything and everyone
that depends on it.

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