A scientific panel’s finding that recent extreme weather in the Murray-Darling Basin has been amplified by climate change and further global warming will make mass fish deaths more common must trigger serious action from the federal government.

A scientific panel’s finding that recent extreme weather in the Murray-Darling Basin has been amplified by climate change and further global warming will make mass fish deaths more common must trigger serious action from the federal government, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said.

An interim report on fish deaths in the lower Darling by a panel chaired by Professor Robert Vertessy found climate change was likely to have a profound impact on the hydrology and ecology of the Murray-Darling Basin and exacerbate the risk of fish deaths.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Campaigns Director, Dr Paul Sinclair, said:

“How many more inquiries need to unambiguously set out the impact climate change is having on this river system and detail the need for fundamental reform of the way water is managed in the Murray-Darling Basin before we see change at the national level?

“This summer’s appalling spectacle of more than a million dead fish floating in the Darling River should be the spur for serious political action on climate change and water reform.

“The river system that is the lifeblood of much of rural and regional Australia is dying, but this government remains asleep at the wheel.

“Climate change is having a devastating impact – the scientists have made that clear – and ‘it’s just the drought’ is a negligent response.”

Since Four Corners exposed alleged water theft and maladministration in the Murray-Darling in July 2017, several inquiries have highlighted serious problems in water management and/or a failure to recognise the impact climate change is having on the Basin:

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Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@mail.acf.org.au