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Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram: Development of national investigation and reporting protocols for fish kills in recreational and capture fisheries

Nowak, B., Crane, M. and Jones, B.ORCID: 0000-0002-0773-2007 (2005) Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram: Development of national investigation and reporting protocols for fish kills in recreational and capture fisheries. Australian Government. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

Abstract

Wild fish kills happen regularly across Australia. The more spectacular kills are reported in the media, but many remain relatively obscure. Often the causes of fish kills remain unknown. This can be a problem, particularly if pollution or some other human activity is to blame and if further fish kills are to be avoided.

Timely sampling of dying fish and their environment is critical to achieving a reliable diagnosis. Identification of the causes of significant wild fish kills is important to the public, environmental groups, recreational, aquaculture and wild capture fisheries. It is important to detect exotic diseases, and major pollution events (both accidental and deliberate) as soon as possible to both minimise harm and to support Australia's surveillance and monitoring capability at the international level. This activity underpins export market access and strengthens our national biosecurity initiatives.

The sampling of dead and dying fish is a complicated procedure. There needs to be a system for reporting incidents and getting trained staff to the site quickly with appropriate sampling equipment. Since many fish kills are associated with poisoning events, there are significant OH&S issues involved. If prosecutions are to be successful, legal issues must be addressed and forensic sampling techniques (chain of custody etc.) must be employed. Planning and funding fish kill responses therefore requires detailed planning and funding across agencies within jurisdictions. The ability to respond to fish kills varies greatly between Australian jurisdictions.

The National Aquatic Animal Health Technical Working Group (NAAH-TWG) identified the need for a consistent approach to investigating fish kills as an important component of the national biosecurity initiative. The concept of a national workshop to progress this issue was endorsed by the Aquatic Animal Health Committee (AAHC) and was incorporated into the national AQUAPLAN 2005-2010 initiative. There has been strong positive feedback from stakeholders to the concept of a workshop.

The funding provided through the Budget Initiative was seed money for the project. The objective of this project is consistent with the objectives of the new Australian Government’s Securing the Future – Protecting our Industries from Biological, Chemical and Physical Risk budget initiative.

This project’s two objectives were to improve investigation and reporting of major fish kills in recreational and capture fisheries and to publish national investigation and reporting protocols for fish kills in recreational and capture fisheries.

The first output of this project was to run a fish kill workshop that would bring together people with expertise and/or an interest in fish kill management from around Australia to develop a consistent set of protocol to deal with fish kills. This project’s second output was to document and distribute the outcomes of this workshop.

Item Type: Report
Series Name: Final Report. FRDC Project No. 2005/620
Publisher: Australian Government. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
Publishers Website: http://frdc.com.au/Archived-Reports/FRDC%20Project...
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/43198
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