Deaths of fish spark concern

David SalvaireSound Telegraph
Heavy rains have caused a fish kill in the Peel-Harvey estuary.
Camera IconHeavy rains have caused a fish kill in the Peel-Harvey estuary. Credit: Steve Anderson

A group of Mandurah fishermen are calling for action over what they say is a serious fish kill in the Peel region caused by recent heavy rains.

The February rainfall which caused flooding across the South West resulted in the deaths of species like black bream, cobbler, blue swimmer crabs and whiting in the Peel-Harvey estuary.

Although some deaths are expected after a significant weather event, local fishing enthusiast Steve Anderson said he and other fishers had serious concerns over the numbers they were seeing.

“The size of the kill is substantial and there’s been a wall of dead fish in front of the surge,” Mr Anderson said.

“I’ve spent the last week trying to track down people who know the area and everyone I speak to is telling me it’s looking bad.”

Mr Anderson, who has fished the estuary for 15 years, said he wanted to see better management of the waterways.

The Department of Water’s Peel program manager Bob Pond said the department had investigated multiple fish kill reports after the rainfall but found no evidence of large numbers of deaths.

“Most of the reports were of small numbers of fish, but were spread over a large area,” he said.

“Investigation teams were sent out a number of times over a four- day period and although we found evidence of dead crabs, bream, mullet, and whiting, we never found any large numbers generally associated with a major incident.

He said water quality analysis of the area was consistent with a large rainfall event which was washing organic matter into the waterways from the catchment.

Last week Recfishwest called on recreational fisherman to report any fish kill events they saw.

“It is unknown what effect the recent flooding has had on stocks of important estuarine and freshwater species ... however, Recfishwest have been receiving reports of dead fish from a number of systems and we are calling on all fishers to report what you are seeing,” a spokesman said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails