Reporting of fish kills in the Kimberley is important in the dry conditions

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) reminds Kimberley residents and visitors to the region to report any fish kills or stranded fish they may observe, especially where creeks and waterbodies have begun to dry up.

The FishWatch reporting line 1800 815 507 is available 24 hours a day or on weekdays you could also call the DPIRD office in Broome on 9193 8600.

A call from a community member last week about a fish kill, involving barramundi in a creek pool within the Fitzroy River catchment area, was followed up promptly.

The investigation noted a number of dead barramundi along a three-kilometre stretch of the creek. The Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) is in the process of finalizing its investigation.

DWER manages investigations of freshwater fish kills and DPIRD’s role is to investigate marine fish kills. Reports made through FishWatch are delegated to the relevant agency to follow-up.

The departments work together to assist each other and, in all cases, DPIRD’s fish pathologists can be tasked to carry out laboratory testing of fish samples assessed as suitable for testing.

DPIRD’s Aquatic Resource Management director Nathan Harrison has urged people to continue making reports about any incidents they come across in the region.

“The earlier we can hear about a fish kill event or stranding, the better, so that relevant Government agencies can be informed and the matter can be investigated,” Mr Harrison said.

“Dry conditions in the Kimberley are having a significant impact and we are also asking people to report any stranded sawfish they come across. Sawfish are totally protected from fishing and DPIRD can potentially make arrangements to relocate stranded sawfish.”

General Health Department advice around any fish kill is;

  • not to swim in areas of water with large numbers of dead and decomposing fish because they may contain high levels of bacteria and have an objectionable odour;
  • not to fish in water with large numbers of dead fish;
  • not to handle, collect, relocate or use dead fish for bait or consumption because of the risk of high levels of bacteria and potential for infection through handling or ingestion;
  • and not to allow pets and other animals to come into contact with dead or decomposing fish either in the water or on shore.

The Health Department also advises anyone who has handled dead or dying fish and experiences inflammation on their hands around any cuts or abrasions should see a doctor.

Source: WA DPIRD