A dead fish floats on top of the water in the Ballina North Lakes area.
A dead fish floats on top of the water in the Ballina North Lakes area. Jay Cronan

Ballina fish deaths cause concern

A SYSTEM of canals in Ballina that usually teems with marine life and healthy, green algae was littered with dead fish yesterday.

Geoff Lawler of Steinhardt's Oysters runs his oyster farm adjacent to the North Lakes Estate on North Creek Rd, Ballina, where the dead mullet and bream were scattered in canals.

He said the fish kill was indicative of problems with water quality.

"We get oyster kills at the same time and disease problems, which is a symptom of it," he said.

"I have oyster farms in the Brunswick and Tweed rivers and never have a problem.

"They have addressed the problem there and they have had an estuary management plan in place for years now and since then, they have eliminated the fish kills."

Mr Lawler, an oyster farmer of 20 years, said he first spotted fish in the canal "gasping for air" on Friday.

When The Northern Star visited the site yesterday, locals claimed fertilisers used by home owners contributed to the kill, but Department of Primary Industries North Region senior fisheries conservation manager, Marcus Riches, suspects it is due to low oxygen levels.

"It is a common occurrence there as it is a man made system as a result of the sub-division," he said.

"Herbicides, fertilisers and even lawn clippings can contribute to the poor water quality.

"We have taken some fish samples and taken that to the labs for analysis."



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