Allowing native fish the opportunity to move up and down a river system so they can breed might seem obvious, but it’s an obvious solution that too often, of late, has been forgotten in the rush to allocate blame.

That’s why, says Steve Whan, CEO of the National Irrigators’ Council (NIC), the report released by the Government independent scientific panel looking into fish deaths is welcome.

Steve Whan said “for many years irrigators have been advocating what we call ‘complementary measures’, these are critical actions to improve the habitat and environment of our river system, they include things like fish ways and other measures to enhance the connectivity of a river system for native fish.

“It’s pleasing to see the government’s independent panel make strong recommendations in this area. An obvious benefit from the panel including a native fish scientist.

“The panel’s interim report provides some tough, but practical, recommendations. Combined with the Productivity Commission’s thorough five-year review of the Basin Plan Government’s should now have a challenging but clearer way forward.

“This report emphasised the need to improve monitoring and measurement of the northern basin system: both flows and conditions in river; and take from the rivers and floodplains.

“Irrigator’s strongly agree with those priorities, our members want accurate monitoring of rivers and we have consistently supported transparent and up-to-date monitoring of extractions. That information is vital for the effective management and recovery of our river systems.

“But it is also important for irrigators. Too often the reputations of irrigation farmers are trashed by people who make assertions with no foundation and no knowledge. If we have accurate scientifically based information it will be harder for those political opportunists to get away with their, often distressing, false attacks.

“NIC notes there is a consistent theme between this report and the Academy of Science report about the need for changes to the Menindee Lakes. It should be clear that the task of design and consultation with affected communities must be given much higher priority by Government.

“As always, the irrigation community looks forward to being part of the solution and to achieving healthy rivers, healthy communities and a continued capacity to produce food and fibre for Australia.”

Media Contact: Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Friday 22 February 2019