Academy expert panel responds to findings of fish deaths assessment

February 21, 2019

The Independent Assessment of Fish Deaths interim report released by Minister David Littleproud today is a welcome contribution to the growing evidence base to help inform action to improve the health of Australia’s rivers.

The fish kill is a multifactorial issue and it is in the national interest to ensure all the available knowledge is brought to bear in assessing this concerning situation and finding appropriate solutions.

Decisions to maintain and improve Australia’s river system based on the best available science is something all Australians want to see.

The expert panel of multidisciplinary experts, convened by the Australian Academy of Science, notes that the interim report reaches similar conclusions to the expert panel’s report released earlier this week regarding declining flows.

“We note that while the terms of reference for the government panel, and hence the scope of findings and recommendations are narrower, within the common scope there is good agreement across the two reports,” Professor Moritz said.

Expert review Panel Chairman, Professor Craig Moritz FAA said the interim report’s recommendations primarily focus on monitoring and management of current flows but, as yet, do not directly assess the cause of the longer-term decline in flows down the Darling.

The expert panel will continue to work collaboratively with the government panel convened by Professor Robert Vertessy. A number of the Academy’s expert panel members are taking part in the technical workshop arranged to review the interim report on Wednesday, 27 February.

The expert panel also notes the MDBA discussion paper on Climate change and the Murray Darling Basin Plan released on February 20. This paper reflects the expert panel’s recommendation to improve forecasting of the effects of climate change on river flows and health and is very welcome.

The expert panel remain hopeful that there can be a bipartisan approach to solving the issues along the Darling.

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