Tallow Creek fish kill

Byron Shire Council staff will be meeting with NPWS, the Cape Byron Marine Park Authority, Crown Lands and Arakwal next week to discuss a fish kill that occurred at Tallow Creek at Byron Bay.

Council, with cooperation from NPWS and the Cape Byron Marine Park Authority, opened the mouth of the creek to the ocean on Friday 14 June because the sandbank at the entrance to the creek had built up.

“This was causing flooding into people’s yards and the Suffolk Park footpath was also flooded,” James Flockton, Flood and Drainage Engineer, said.

Council has a licence from NPWS to open the mouth of Tallow Creek when the water levels are above 2.2m.

“Opening the mouth of Tallow Creek is strictly controlled and can only be done with support from NPWS, DPI Fisheries and the Cape Byron Marine Park Authority.

“While the artificial opening is done to meet a high tide to minimise the rapid release of water to the ocean and reduce the chance of a fish kill, sometimes, no matter how hard we try, a fish kill will occur,” Mr Flockton said.

“Fish kills can also happen when the creek opens naturally because the fast flow of water out of the creek quickly removes the good oxygenated water from the system.

“Everything is done to try to avoid a fish kill but sometimes, despite best efforts, they do occur and it is upsetting for staff and everyone involved.

Tallow Creek is an Intermittently Closed and Open Lake / Lagoon (ICOLL), one of many on the Australian coastline that opens and closes to the ocean naturally over time.

Council staff are now reviewing data collected during the opening process and investigating the causes of the fish kill. Staff will be meeting with NPWS, the Cape Byron Marine Park Authority, Crown Lands and Arakwal next week to discuss the data and possible mitigation options for future opening events.

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