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Fish kill at Tallow Beach

Fish kill at Tallow tea tree lake on Saturday. Supplied picture
Fish kill at Tallow tea tree lake on Saturday. Supplied picture Supplied

HUNDREDS, maybe thousands of fish have been killed in the Tallow Beach area over the weekend due to unconfirmed reasons.

Tallow Creek includes small lakes and wetlands and is located seven kilometres south of Byron Bay, behind the dunal area along Tallow Beach, and flows intermittently into the Pacific Ocean.

The beach extends for some three kilometres to the south to Broken Head.

Robert Graham from Byron Bay Deep Sea Fishing Club photographed the fish kill and is very unhappy with the situation .

Mr Graham was first alerted of the fish kill on Friday afternoon by another member of the fishing club.

He attended to the site on Saturday morning.

Mr Graham said the fish kill may have been responsibility of the Byron Bay Marine Park managers, of which Tallow Beach and creek are part of.

"This is from not letting the water out. All the water gets backed up passed the sewerage works.

"The water sits up in the back for that long that the oxygen is gets taken out of it.

"I went out this morning (Sunday) and the first hundred meters of the river is still clear and there is people swimming in there. Twenty meters around the corner there is five thousand fish on the banks and you can hardly walk into it because it stinks so badly," said Mr Graham.

"I would like to know why they can lock these places up and then not do anything with them," he said.

"They used to open it up every year around Christmas, but now they have applied restrictions to it and closed it down and they don't do anything with it.

"The same happened eight or nine years ago, and then three years ago at a smaller scale," Mr Graham said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed that the agency has been made aware of the issue and that "it is not yet determined what the cause is."

"DPI will be sending personnel to study the situation and establish the cause," he said.

The spokesman explained that there could be many reasons for the fish kill.

"Coastal creek can close up naturally and then they open up naturally, sometimes that can cause fish kills.

The spokesman confirmed DPI does not have any detail on the situation at this stage.

"We know there is a fish kill there. This is not uncommon in that area, but we don't have any details on the scale of it yet," he said.

Belongil Creek and Tallow Creek are Special Purpose Zones, including the waters and tidal wetlands.

Both zones provide for the protection and rehabilitation of the creeks.

A permit from the Marine Parks Authority is required for any harvesting activity.

Permits are also required for rehabilitation works and for scientific research.

The Cape Byron Marine Park covers an area of around 22,000 hectares.

The marine park extends from Brunswick Heads in the north to Lennox Head in the south, and from the mean high water mark and upper tidal limits of coastal estuaries, seaward to the three nautical mile limit of NSW waters.

TIMELINE OF A FISH KILL

Flooding affects the river.

Deoxygenation occurs four days after the flood peaks.

After another one to two days, fish start floating to the surface.

Topics:  fish kill, tallow beach


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