Fishing for a solution

Perhaps its the delirium brought on by watching the Hewitt/Baghdatis match to its conclusions at 4.35am or perhaps I was just appalled by the images of drowning fish. Whatever the cause, I think we should do something about the massive fish kills ASAP.

Ive read a number of stories where local fishermen have criticised the people in charge of catchment management but those attacks are strong on rhetoric and short on detail. The fact is that our lands arent heavily cultivated or laden with intensive agriculture. The majority of the lands that went under the flood were pasture and pastures are relatively low in organic matter. Admittedly, the effluent from a number of small cities was drawn directly into the river system, but those centres dont have huge populations.

What Im trying to get at is that, apart from our sewerage systems, the changes we could make to our catchment management would not drastically effect the quality of floodwaters.

Unless we have an apocalypse, the population is going to keep expanding and this will produce even more effluent-rich floodwaters. The more effluent in the water, the more de-oxygenated the river becomes.

To make matters worse we are moving into the La Nia ocean current cycle and this, combined with an increase in the global temperature, means we will experience a period of increased flooding in our area.

Our fish numbers have already been devastated, but it could become a chronic condition for our river system and cause local extinctions if we dont do something about it.

I think we can attack it from both ends of the equation.

In terms of input we need to make dry composting toilets compulsory and phase out our reticulated sewerage systems. (At present this system pours effluent directly into the rivers during every big rain event).

In terms of output, how about we re-oxygenate the post-flood river?

On a small scale I could envisage fishermen grabbing a blower, five metres of weighted poly pipe, getting on the river and blowing bubbles. This might only save a dozen fish but its a start. Think if every keen angler was out there trying to help out their scaly friends. In addition we could install industrial blowers on the tugs in the harbour and send them out to re-oxygenate the estuary. Surely fish would swarm toward these blowers in the hope of survival. The breeding stock could be saved and the industry would recover five times faster.

Maybe Im fooling myself, but if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can re-oxygenate a river. So lets engage some boffins and a retinue of research assistants and work out how it can be done. Surely we have the ingenuity, forethought and the political will to at least give it a burl?

Anything to distract us from Jim Couriers post-match interviews...


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