Showing posts with label Northern Rivers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northern Rivers. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 February 2020

February 2020 - a month of fish kills and fish rescues in New South Wales

The Northern Star, 18 February 20120, pp 1-2:

Dr Matt Landos, a local veterinarian who specialises in aquatic species, recently warned of a potential fish kill. 

He previously said the long, dry spell had led to a build-up of monosulfidic black ooze in agricultural drains within the catchment. The drains were built long ago to empty wetlands to open land to farming. 

On Sunday, he took his son to North Creek to find his prediction had come true. “Nineteen years on from the first major kill, and the science on drainage and wetland restoration sits largely gathering dust, waiting for action to fix our landscape,” he said. 

“The solution is to pay our farmers to restore drained wetlands.” A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Primary Industries said DPI Fisheries had investigated fish death events at Rocky Mouth Creek and North Creek. 

“Mullet, bream and whiting are the main species impacted, the spokesperson said.“The suspected cause of the current events is due to critically low dissolved oxygen levels.”

Earlier in the month on 7 February at Fine Flower Creek in the Clarence River catchment there was a report of approximately 150 to 200 dead fish including Mullet and Perch. Likely cause being low dissolved oxygen within an isolated pool receiving minimal inflows.

Further down the coast on 11 February at Clybucca Creek in the Macleay River estuary there was a report of thousands of dead fish including Garfish, Mullet, Blackfish, Silver Biddy, Flathead, Bream and Whiting. Recent rainfall events have caused flooding of the backswamp system resulting in deoxygenated and low pH water, killing fish upstream and downstream of the gates.

That same day at Killick Creek, Kempsey, there was also a report of thousands of dead fish including Yellowfin Bream, Mullet, Longtail Eels and Flathead. Stressed fish were observed gasping at the water surface indicating low dissolved oxygen levels present. Cause was episodic rainfall events that caused short and sharp flow. This can cause a rapid reduction in dissolved oxygen levels due to large volumes of organic material entering the river system.

On 5 February Cockle Creek at Teralba, Lake Macquarie there was a report of  hundreds of dead Mullet. Likely cause being low dissolved oxygen within an isolated pool receiving minimal inflows.

16 February at North Creek, Prospect and Chickiba Lakes at Ballina saw a report of thousands of dead fish including Bream, Leather Jacket and Trumpeter. Cause unknown.

By 18 &19 February the Richmond River had suffered two fish kill events. The first at Woodburn Bridge when hundreds  of mullet died due to the reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels caused by significant rainfall/flooding event on floodplain, followed by hot weather, leading to discharge of large volumes of critically low DO water entering the waterway via creeks and drains.The second at the East Wardell Boat Ramp with a report of hundreds of dead fishing including Bream, Flathead, Garfish, Whiting, Mullet, Herring ranging from 10cm to 40cm. The cause was a reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels caused by significant rainfall/flooding event on floodplain, followed by hot weather, leading to discharge of large volumes of critically low DO water entering the waterway via creeks and drains.

Also on 19 February at Alumny Creek, South Arm and Shark Creek in the Clarence Valley there were reports of thousands of dead fish including mullet and eels, due to the reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels caused by significant rainfall/flooding event on floodplain, followed by hot weather, leading to discharge of large volumes of critically low DO water entering the waterway via creeks and drains.

A total of 24 fish kill events occurred in NSW coastal catchments in February 2020, while there were 6 fish kill events in the Murray-Darling Basin involving the death of many hundreds of dead wild fish.

See: NSW Dept. Primary Industries (DPI), Fish Kills in NSW for full details.

In order to save as many fish as possible from the record-breaking drought, bushfires and post-fire water pollution after rainfall, rescues have taken place in the Gwydir, Border Rivers, Macquarie, Lachlan, and Upper Murray catchments in the Murray-Darling Basin, and in the Clarence and Richmond River catchments on the coast.

Threatened fish species were captured and relocated to areas where these fish would have a greater chance of surviving or sent to government hatcheries and Taronga Western Plains Zoo where they will form the backbone of captive breeding programs.

DPI Fisheries states it has rescued more than 5,000 native fish from all corners of the state, since operations began in September 2019 with the rescue of Murray Cod, Golden Perch and other native fish species in the drying Menindee Lakes.

Those fish rescued to date include: approximately 1,630 Olive Perchlet, 740 Southern Pygmy Perch, 292 Oxleyan Pygmy Perch, 107 Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon, 98 Eastern Freshwater Cod, 79 Silver Perch and 34 Eel-tailed Catfish and, sadly only 9 Macquarie Perch.

Community members are encouraged to report sightings of threatened fish to help identify where actions may be required to prevent fish deaths and, to report any fish deaths or observations through the Fishers Watch phoneline on 1800 043 536. 

For more information or to report a threatened species, download the FishSmart app, phone the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536, or visit

Friday, 14 February 2020

NSW Northern Rivers learning the hard way that state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW is a bad neighbour

ABC News, 11 February 2020: 

When the Busby's Flat Road fire ripped through Wendy Pannach's Rappville farm in northern New South Wales last October she assumed that neighbours would share in the cost of replacing boundary fencing. 

Two neighbours — a private landholder and a company — did agree to work together, but the state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW has refused to contribute anything despite her desperate pleas. 

Ms Pannach initially thought that it may cost her up to $100,000 to repair and replace all the fire damaged and destroyed internal and boundary fencing. 

But now, with support from charity BlazeAid, it is expected to be far less, and the shared cost of the 1.3-kilometre boundary fencing with Forestry Corp would be minimal. 

"I am working to design the fencing to maximize how much BlazeAid can do in terms of supplying labour," she said. 

"Originally it was looking at $20,000, probably Forest Corp's share would probably now be about $5,000. It's not a lot of money. 

"But if there was no other support, and with the added cost of all of the other boundary and internal fences I have to replace it, it makes a difference." 

Ms Pannach is hoping that a Commonwealth natural disaster recovery grant of up to $75,000 will help cover costs as she is ineligible for NSW disaster relief. 

But she is concerned that farmers affected by future disasters may not receive access to similar funding....

MP admits NSW Govt not 'very good neighbour' 

The state Member for Clarence, Nationals' MP Chris Gulaptis, who met Ms Pannach at a food industry group meeting in Grafton, agreed that his Government needs to do a better job at managing its forestry estate. 

"It's a legitimate concern that she has, and other landowners have, who share boundaries with government land, whether it be national parks or state forests," Mr Gulaptis said. 

"The Government isn't very good neighbour, to put it quite bluntly, and it needs to be a better neighbour. I think that Forest Corp needs to look at managing its estate a lot better than what it does.".....

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

So how is News Corp faring in the NSW Northern Rivers region?

The total resident population of the NSW Northern Rivers region is est. 302,649 people.

News Corp dominates print media in the region and, given that this multinational is losing cross-platform readership in Australia, here are the Northern Rivers region numbers News Corp admits to in July 2019.


The Northern Star (Lismore) – newspaper printed Monday to Sauturday – No print reach published, 178.6k digital & 140.4k mobile monthly reach self-reported. Average print readership per issue likely to be around 28,000.

The Daily Examiner (Grafton) – newspaper printed Monday to Saturday – No print reach published, 42.6k digital & 32.5k mobile monthly reach self-reported. Average print readership per issue likely to be less than 10,000.

The Lismore Echo – free weekly community newspaper home delivered – 45,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Ballina Shire Advocate – free weekly community newspaper home delivered – 27,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Richmond River Express-Examiner (Casino region) – weekly community newspaper – 20,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Coastal Views (Lower Clarence Valley) – free weekly community newspaper home deivered – 16,000 monthly reach self-reported.

By contrast non-News Corp news outlets, the free weekly community newspapers the Byron Shire Echo and Clarence Valley Independent self-report a reach of 53,000 & 13,500 per print issue respectively, with the Byron Shire Echo having a self-reported 128.6k monthly digital reach as part of the Echo NetDaily regional news website.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Moderate flooding beginning to occur in the Clarence Valley

The Daily Examiner, 9 February 2020

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales

Minor to Moderate Flood Warning for the Orara River

at Glenreagh and Coutts Crossing

Issued at 3:18 am EDT on Sunday 9 February 2020
Flood Warning Number: 18
Minor flooding is expected at Glenreagh Sunday morning.
Moderate flooding is occurring along the Orara River at Coutts Crossing.
Further rain is forecast for the next 36 to 48 hours which could cause renewed river level rises. The situation is being closely monitored and revised forecasts will be issued if necessary.

Orara River:

Moderate flooding is occurring along the Orara River at Coutts Crossing.
The Orara River at Glenreagh Automatic Gauge is expected to exceed the minor flood level (5.00 metres) Sunday morning.
The Orara River at Glenreagh Bridge (manual flood gauge) is expected to exceed the minor flood level (4.00 metres) Sunday morning.
The Orara River at Coutts Crossing was 9.00 metres at 2:35 am Sunday with moderate flooding. Further rises are possible with forecast rain.

Flood Safety Advice:

In life threatening emergencies, call 000 (triple zero) immediately. If you require rescue, assistance to evacuate or other emergency help, ring NSW SES on 132 500.
  • * Avoid drowning. Stay out of rising water, seek refuge in the highest available place.
  • * Prevent damage to your vehicle. Move it under cover, away from areas likely to flood.
  • * Avoid being swept away. Stay out of fast-flowing creeks and storm drains.
  • * Never drive, ride or walk through flood water. Flood water can be deceptive and dangerous.
Latest Far North Coast river heights can be found here.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Clarence Valley, Lismore & Richmond Valley get $1 million each from Drought Communities Programme after discovery of yet another alleged Morrison Government 2019 election campaign funding rort caused grant criteria to be revised & broadened

The Daily Examiner, 29 January 2020:

Yes, the Clarence Valley has been 100% drought affected with most of the land officially in either the Drought or Severe Drought categories.

This along with the bushfires has makes 2019-20 a horror year for farmers and graziers.

So this federal government grant is most welcome.

However, Clarence Valley local government area - like Lismore and Richmond Valley - only became eligible when criteria for assistance was changed after it was discovered that, just an in the 'sports rorts affair', there had been an apparent manipulation of a grant programme's funding allocations just prior to the May 2019 federal election - when of the 14 councils announced eligible as a Coalition election commitment 13 were in Coalition-held electorates and just one was not as it was held by an Independent.

The plus for Nationals MP for Page, Kevin Hogan, is that now instead of one council in his electorate being given a Drought Communities Programme grant, there are now three four.

Richmond Valley, another Northern Rivers local government area, also receives a grant of $1 million. However it is in a federal electorate which has been held by the Australian Labor Party since 2004. 

Somewhat ironic that a move by Morrison & Co to assist Coalition electorates has ended up giving this particular Labor electorate a windfall.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Tree canopy loss in NSW Northern Rivers from Clarence Valley LGA to NSW-Qld border by January 2020

Firegrounds post major fires which were actively burning in September 2019 to January 2020, mapped by

Southernmost half of coastal Bundjalung National Park showing full canopy loss

Degrees of canopy loss in the Cloud Creek and Guy Fawkes region

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Mullum Flickerfest and Byron All Shorts film festival 30 January to 1 February 2020 at Mullumbimby Civic Hall

29th International Short Film Festival

Tour Date: Thursday 30 January - Saturday 1 February 2020

Thu 30th Jan, 8.00pm - Best Of International Shorts - 2020 Tour - $25/ $22con (inc pre-screening drinks & nibbles)

Fri 31st Jan, 8.00pm - Best Of Australian Shorts - 2020 Tour - $16/ $14con

Sat 1st Feb, 8.00pm - Short Laughs Comedy - 2020 Tour - $16/ $14con

Sat 1st Feb, 4pm – Byron All Shorts – Nth Rivers Short Film comp (Prog announced early Jan) – $14/ $12
Festival Pass: $55/45
Full Programme, Information & Bookings:
Venue: Mullumbimby Civic Hall
Doors Open: 1 hr prior to sessions
Opening Night Party starts: 7pm
Tickets: through; (or at the door).

Flickerfest CafeOpen daily: 1hr prior to sessions.
Serving delicious organic treats & drinks.

Some of the short films being shown:

German film ‘The Jackpot
Australian comedy ‘Chicken’ 
Animated film Rebooted’ 
Australian film  ‘Its Christmas
Drama  ‘A Day In Your Life’ 
Comedy ‘A Family Affair
12 short films from around the NSW Northern Rivers

Monday, 20 January 2020

Australian Bushfire Season 2019-20: Northern Rivers communities once again demonstrate that they care

Echo NetDaily, 17 January 2020:
11 volunteers headed up to farms near Tabulam last weekend to help get fences back in place following devastating bushfires in December. Photo supplied.
Having his and his neighbours farms devastated by fires in December, including the loss of one of their homes, local Byron Shire resident Bart Vanarey had put the call out for helping hands to rebuild fences on their properties. He was not left disappointed and had 11 people  last weekend and another 11 are people coming up this weekend to help get their perimeter fences re-built on the properties near Tabulam.
‘The response has been very heartening,’ said Bart.
Getting fence  farms near Tabulam last weekend to help get fences back in place following devastating bushfires in December. Photo supplied.
It was such a good weekend with helpers coming from all over the world (only in Byron Bay) from the Canary Islands, Ecuador, Canada, Texas and of course Lismore, Byron and Lennox.’
Even in the rain the volunteers got down to the hard yakka and kept building fences and while Bart was claiming they had managed to erect 700m of fencing he was told he was ‘dreamin’ and it was more like 400m.
The call was also heard by a tractor hire company who has donated a tractor to help with the fencing. Bart is continuing to raise funds for the materials and and has raised more money for another 170 fenceposts and 80 concrete fenceposts to be delivered to the properties....

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Bushfire ash & debris as well as drought now killing fish in NSW coastal and inland rivers

"Fish kills are defined as a sudden mass mortality of wild fish. In NSW we are likely to see further severe fish kills across coastal and inland catchments during the summer of 2019/20....Fish can be directly impacted during fires through extreme high temperatures, loss of habitat, or be threatened from rapid declines in water quality if rainfall occurs in recently burnt areas. Run-off from rainfall events can wash large amounts of ash and sediment into rivers following fires, causing rapid drops in oxygen levels and threatening the survival of fish populations." [NSW Dept of Primary Industries]

The upper reaches of the Clarence River have been badly stressed by low water flows since 2018, so when bushfires began to eat their way through the severely drought affected Clarence Valley in mid-2019 it was obvious that the rolling impacts wouldn't stop when the fires diminished or when rain fell.

There has been a fish kill at Big Fish Flat, an area known for the protected eastern freshwater cod now only found in parts of this river system and commonly known as Clarence River Cod.

The most likely cause of this kill is bushfire ash entering a river which has all but ceased to flow - turning what water there is into a toxic brew.

At Baryulgil on the Clarence est. 1,000 fish died due to low dissolved oxygen within an isolated pool receiving minimal inflows due to drought conditions.

There was also a fish kill on the Mann River, a major tributary of the Clarence which reportedly coincided with ash in the water.

Two fish kills were experienced to the north at Emigrant Creek at Tintenbar in the Ballina Shire and the Brunswick River near Byron Bay - possibly due to low dissolved oxygen within an isolated pool and minimal freshwater inflows. 

Another fish kill occurred to the south on an 8km stretch of the Macleay River where locals describe the bushfire ash and burned debris turning that river's water into a thick sludge killing hundreds of thousands including Australian Bass, Bull TroutFreshwater MulletEel-tailed Catfish and Eels.

The Guardian, 17 January 2020: Results of a fish kill in the Macleay River in northern New South Wales, which locals said was like ‘cake mix’. Photograph: Larry Newberry

Similarly bushfire affected water ways in the NSW-Qld Border Rivers system appear to have been similarly affected by run-off from the fire grounds and reported fish kills there are being investigated.

All in all a total of 23 coastal and 17 inland NSW waterways have experienced small to large fish kills to date during the 2019-20 bushfire season.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

NSW Bushfire Emergency Declaration covering the Clarence Valley has been revoked as fires begin to diminsh

Bushfires in the Clarence Valley are diminishing.

So the Section 44 Bushfire Emergency declation declared in August 2019 when the NSW Rural Fire Service was battling around twenty fires a day - many caused by hazard reduction burns on private land which ran out of control - was revoked last week.

Although the fire grounds have contracted significantly, the Myall Creek Road and Washpool National Park fires are still burning and peat in the Shark Creek area is also still alight.

However, these fires have been listed as under control for some weeks.

Valley residents should still keep an eye open for new fire activity, because forewarned is forearmed for our scattered communities.

Since June 2019 an est. 548,698 hectares have burned in a local government area comprising a total of 1,044,996 hectares. That is almost 53 per cent of the Clarence Valley land mass affected by fire to date.

The fires kicked off in a big way in September when the Shark Creek fire entered Yuraygir National Park and spread to threaten Angourie and Wooloweyah with one spot fire burning as far north as the vicinity of the Yamba community pool before being controlled.

Then in October-November the Nymboida region began to blaze, quickly followed by the spread of the Myall Creek Road fire into the Valley, then Washpool National Park began to burn and Woombah through to the New Italy area as well as Bunjalung National Park lit up - creating even larger fire grounds.

Now on Wednesday 15 January 2020 the smoke has gone, the air is clean, in the Lower Clarence River the water remains clear and, popular beaches along the Clarence Coast are much as they were before the bushfire emergency began.

During the Christmas holidays the tourists came back, so there are small children in rashies, young women in sarongs & sandals and proud local grandparents showing off their visiting grandkids once more peopling our streets.

But all is not well. 

We can easily count how many homes, sheds and how much community infrastructure we've lost in the Valley and, eventually money will rebuild much of what is gone.

Trying to gauge the degree of loss of natural landscapes, wildlife biodiversity and cultural sites - and what that means to us as regional communities - will be much harder.

The Clarence Valley may find itself changed forever. 

Friday, 3 January 2020

The NSW Northern Rivers region's anger at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not going away

Byron Bay Shire resident, singer-songwriter Tex Perkins, performed at Sydney's New Year's Eve open-air event bringing in 2020.

Millions of people across the country and around the world saw his performance during the ABC TV live broadcast.

Tex dedicated the song The Honeymoon is Over to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Immediately and very publicly flipping him the bird while roughly facing Kirribilli House where the prime minister and his selected guests had gathered to watch the fireworks.

News Corp's main online media site reported on 1 January 2020:

He was hammering home his disgust at the PM’s alleged lack of action on climate change and leadership as wildfires lash large parts of the country 

The jubilant crowd’s reaction would be painful enough, but Perkins’ aptly chosen song “The Honeymoon Is Over”, which he released as a member of the band The Cruel Sea, features on Mr Morrison’s Spotify playlist titled “How good is Oz Rock! (ScoMo’s Classics)”

IMAGE: The Daily Examiner, 1 January 2019

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

THE REALITY OF ECOCIDE: a truth thread from the NSW Northern Rivers. If you read nothing else between now and New Year 2020 read this

This is not an easy read. It may upset you. It will frighten you by the time its import sinks in.

It speaks both lived experience and brutal truth. 

Truth which we ignore at our peril.

Mecurius Goldstein, on Twitter, 19 December 2019:

Ecocide: A thread
Bearing witness at Wytaliba NSW, these photos are a response to the neverending know-it-all 💩 from armchair experts since the #NSWfires started in September.
6 weeks and 3 inches of rain later, this is a riverbed.

Here's a creek into the Mann, a tributary of the Clarence River NSW. We're +40 days and there's been rain, but nothing here is coming back. I've had to put up with endless smug woo-woo from online dipshits saying everything would be lovely again in 6 weeks after rain. Well look:

What's happening now. These roos didn't starve, they died from drinking the toxic run-off from rain. The river is full of tar, basically the ashes of hell. Our local Greens group has donated a large % of our funds to food for 65 joeys under wildlife care, but the water is toxic.

What the insta-expert smug online pricks don't get is that in fact, no, these fires aren't "good for the environment", they don't make the forests thrive, there's nothing here but the smell of death. No food, no water, no going back. 6 weeks and after rain, all is still.

A belting flash-flood came through here the last week. There's nothing to hold the water, nothing to stop it churning tonnes of toxic shit downstream. This will all eventually end up going past Grafton NSW. Gravity is like that.

And as for the sanctimonious scapegoating delusions about hazard reduction and back-burning, sit down and listen: Behind those hills a massive back-burn was instigated in September by authorised agencies, thousands of hectares. Made shit-all difference.

Also get this. In September one of those lovely slow-burning ground fires came from the top of that ridge in the back and devoured all the fuel over 3 days it took to travel 800 metres. They're supposed to help but again doesn't make a difference when a crown-fire comes through.

So this whole area that had slow-burnt at ground level in September for days on end, then explosively burnt in November in 15 minutes flat. Smug armchair fuckos think that "burning" will save us from disasters, but they're wrong and they don't know what they're talking about.

Here's but a small patch of the whole perimeter where we did a fun weekend's raking leaves in September. Whole place went up like a torch come November. The ridge in front had been hazard-burned the previous season less than 12 months prior. Do you see now? It doesn't help.

I repeat: Everything you see here had been slow-burnt at ground level not two months before the crown fire came through. Just like the textbook recommends. Just like all the scapegoaters and victim-blamers howl. Not even the large trees survived. We're +6 weeks, and it's over.

Today I realised something important about the scapegoaters and victim-blamers. They're weak and scared. They want to believe this isn't their future, because they would do it differently. They would hazard-burn and back-burn. They would be RFS. Well, that's no escape I'm afraid.

Because this is all our futures if we stay inert, complacent, inactive & disengaged. We need the natural world a great deal more than it needs us, and right now we are being forcibly ejected. Deniers won't turn back until it's too late, will you let them take you down with them?

Humans can survive just about anything, but we can't survive ecocide. It's happened in this community and it will soon happen in yours, unless you take action to stop it. I wonder if you will?