Fish Kill Draws Concern of Locals

Deceased fish washed onto the foreshore. Photo: Contributed

The town of Loch Sport has been left concerned and bemused after witnessing thousands of dead fish along the Lake Victoria foreshore.

The incident occurred on Thursday, March 31 and saw numerous species of fish appear floating in the water, or washing-up on the sand.

The fish kill also impacted black eels and mussels, with the latter causing a stench.

Loch Sport resident Peter Calabro was first made aware of the incident around 10.30am.

Loch Sport resident Peter Calabro with his own photo of the fish kill.
Photo: Tom Parry

“I normally just go for a walk down the jetty and the boat ramp,” Mr Calabro said.

“I had a look (there) and then I just see dead, floating fish everywhere. There was all sorts – there was brim, there was flathead, dead flounder, and lots of (smaller) sardine-types of fish.”

Mr Calabro also noted the peculiar behaviour of the fish that were still alive.

“Around the jetties, you could see them with their heads up as if they were gasping, trying to collect oxygen,” he said.

The dead fish numbered in their thousands.
Photo: Contributed

Evidence of the fish kill was still visible the day after the incident, with the Gippsland Times witnessing dead fish in the shallow water and the lingering birdlife.

The event was concentrated around the western end of the Loch Sport foreshore, with waters to the east being unaffected.

Several residents of Loch Sport, including Mr Calabro, noted that a “dark patch of water” was visible in Lake Victoria prior to the incident, the cause of which is not known.

Officers from the Environment Protection Authority and Victorian Fisheries Authority have visited Loch Sport to investigate the incident.

The fish kill drew the interest (and appetite) of local birdlife.
Photo: Tom Parry.

In a statement to the Gippsland Times, the EPA confirmed that their investigations have concluded and that pollution was not the cause.

“Our officers’ field observations indicate that this event is not caused by a pollution event,” the statement read.

“There is no visual evidence of pollution in the waters, as well as no visual signs of disease on the dead fish.

“EPA are aware of large algal blooms across the Gippsland Lakes recently, it is our assessment that this event is likely caused by natural phenomena.

“EPA will continue to monitor for community reports of pollution in the area but oversight of this incident will now transition across to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.”

Dead fish seen on the jetty last Thursday.
Photo: Contributed

A spokesperson from VFA said that the organisation was “working alongside the EPA and DELWP in response to the fish death event at Lake Victoria, near Loch Sport.”

“Fisheries Officers have been on the scene and due to the change in wind direction, any dead fish have now been washed away from the area.

“There is currently no visible sign of water quality issues.”

THE VFA has confirmed that it will continue to monitor the affected area and conduct tests on fish collected from the event.