NSW MP vomits as he holds dead fish

Murray Cod Australia says no effect from Darling River fish deaths

The cotton industry says it is not to blame for the mass deaths of hundreds of thousands of fish in the Darling River and is exhausted of being a "whipping boy" for problems associated with the drought.

Richard Kingsford, director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, said he was surprised by the grim sights of mired animals near Menindee Lakes.

Cotton Australia said drought was affecting the river system and that the industry was also suffering, forecasting its crop this season would be half of the previous year's.

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.

"Unfortunately this is the sort of thing we do see during drought", he said.

"We have spent billions trying to save the Murray Darling Basin and what have we got?"

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

Up to a million fish are believed to have been killed in the Darling River at Menindee near Broken Hill as a result of a devastating algal bloom event.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair - who has been savaged by some Menindee locals for partly blaming the drought - said in a statement that fish kills are not a new phenomenon and happened in the region between 2002 and 2004 during the millennium drought.

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"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".

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented".

"On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with zero hectares of cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4,000 hectares the year before", the general manager of Cotton Australia, Michael Murray, said.

Independent MP Jeremy Buckingham posted the footage of the incident to Twitter earlier today.

Well too much cotton irrigation upstream in NSW and Queensland is taking too much water out of the river.

"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".

That's not to say Murray Cod Australia hasn't experienced its own disastrous codtastrophe.

"What we have is a massive drought".

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

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