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2023 Menindee Mass Fish Kill: How it happened. 

A desktop investigation unravelling the operational decisions that preceded the death of 20 million fish

by Megan Williams and Dan Schulz

An independent investigation by Megan Williams and Dan Schulz shows evidence that Water Authorities released blackwater into the Darling-Baaka at Menindee just two days before the catastrophic fish kills began in March 2023.

This report claims that these actions contributed to the March Menindee Fish Kills and were never acknowledged by water authorities.

This investigation gave recommendations to the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer's review into the Menindee Mass Fish Deaths which was published in September 2023.


The intention of the report was to detail evidence which could be reviewed by the NSW Chief Scientist's Office, with hope that the CS&E Office would have better access to departmental data and resources to better understand how operational decisions impacted fish deaths.


The full report from the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer can be accessed on their website:

Menindee Fish Deaths | Chief Scientist (

The claims made in our report that blackwater releases contributed to the fish deaths could not be proven nor disproven by the Chief Scientist's Office. One of the key recommendations of the Chief Scientist's review is open access data regime including metered releases at outlet regulators. This knowledge gap in river management would go a long way to achieving the necessary transparency around how the lakes are managed during critical events.

Water Watch commends the NSW Chief Scientist's work on the Menindee Fish Deaths Review and highly recommend it as a thorough and accurate assessment of the fish death events.

You can listen to our engagement with the NSW Chief Scientist's Review in Episode 42, and further analysis of the findings in Episode 43 & Episode 46.

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