Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Gone Fishing

 Things are looking up on the environmental front.  People who keenly watch the doings of Australia's internal waterways may recall that nearly a year ago there was a mass die off of fish in the Murray River.  This came as a surprise and a shock to me as I honestly didn't realise anything lived in the Murray at all.  I also have a bit of a problem with the term "internal waterway".  What is an external waterway?  I think we call them oceans.

To compensate for the Murray's sadly fishless state the NSW government has taken time off from bitching about koalas to dump a couple of million fish that they apparently just had lying around into the river.  So the Murray is once again alive with fish, until they die then the Murray will be dead with fish., again.

The intention, of course, is that the fish thus dumped will ignore their new, low rent surroundings and breed like crazy thus removing the requirement for the government to keep half an ecosystem in ornamental ponds at the back of government house.  This has worked in the past but it usually requires that the water the fish are being dumped into be somewhat liveable.  There has been some rain so the Murray is marginally more liquid than it has been in recent times but other than that nothing much has changed.  Essentially we're simply shovelling in more fish in the hopes that we can beat the death rates by sheer volume.

One of the reasons why the government is eagerly reinpiscinating the river is economic.  Most of the communities along the Murray Darling survive by sucking water out of the river but some of them are centres for sports fishing.  Encouraging anglers to attend your location is a little easier if you can at least plausibly pretend that there might be some fish for them to catch.

Personally I think that these communities (and the state government) have rather missed the point.  Catching fish is time consuming and has no guarantee of success.  Imagine how many anglers would flock to your town if all they had to do was scrape floating dead fish off the surface.  None of that buggering about with rods or hooks.  You could just go out with a net, scoop up your bag and spend the rest of the day in the pub.  Mass fish kills could be the economic recovery plan these towns need.  The only trouble with this plan is you need a constant fish churn to make it succeed.  My personal suggestion is, given the levels of salt in the Murray we should just toss potatoes and oil in with the fish and set the whole thing on fire.  

Still pasting a level of pseudo healthiness over the ecological disaster zone that is the Murray River provides work for fish wranglers if nothing else.  We're going to need more jobs as we come out of the pandemic.  Once we've finished stuffing the rivers with fish we can hire the same people to paint the bleached bits of the Barrier Reef.  With any luck once the thing finally dies nobody will notice.  As long as we don't use water paints of course.

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