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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Water insecurity and mass fish deaths on the Darling River

Why did millions of fish die in an Australian river at the end of 2018? This incident shows how human activities can have unintended impacts on the natural environment. As a case study of a water insecurity issue, it can help us make sense of other environmental problems around the world

The Darling River near Menindee, New South Wales, Australia

In late 2018 and early 2019, the news media reported three shocking events that occurred near the town of Menindee, in New South Wales, Australia. Over the course of 6 weeks, first tens, then hundreds of thousands, then millions of fish were found dead or gasping for oxygen in the waters of the Darling River and nearby lakes. Native cod, perch and bony bream were the species most affected. The cod deaths were particularly shocking because many of them fish were large fish over 20 years old. Whether the fish populations can recover is still not known.

How did this occur, especially given that the Darling River is actively managed by officials employed by both federal and state-level governments in Australia? Was this a preventable disaster or an incident beyond human control? These questions have been addressed by a number of formal inquiries since the disaster.

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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

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