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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 7 June 2023

Investigation underway into a fish kill at Goode Beach

Investigations have begun into a fish kill involving nine slender sunfish at Goode Beach near Albany.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) officers have gathered information and assessed the extent of the fish kill today after a report was made to FishWatch this morning. Unfortunately, suitable samples for laboratory testing could not be collected as the fish were too degraded to be of use.

There have been several reports of sunfish strandings on the South Coast in past years, including a previous stranding at Goode Beach and other locations in the Albany area in 2016 and an old report of 24 sunfish stranded at the Whaling station in May 1966.  

Previous research by the Department of Fisheries had suggested that the mass strandings appear to be a natural phenomenon.

Within Australia, slender sunfish are distributed from the Lizard Island area (Queensland), around southern Australia, to off North West Cape, Western Australia.

 One of the nine slender sunfish found dead at Goode Beach

Updates will be issued if further information becomes available. In the meantime, people are reminded to stay safe around fish kills and follow this general Department of Health advice.

  • not to swim in areas of water with large numbers of dead and decomposing fish because they may contain high levels of bacteria and have an objectionable odour;
  • not to fish in water with large numbers of dead fish;
  • temporarily not to collect or consume fish from the waters near a fish kill;
  • not to collect and use dead fish for bait or consumption because of the risk of high levels of bacteria; and
  • not to allow pets and other animals to come into contact with dead or decomposing fish either in the water or on shore.

Our officers have been trained to collect fish and water samples using appropriate safe methods and equipment. The best way the public can help is by immediately reporting fish kills to the FishWatch 24/7 reporting service on 1800 815 507. That way, first responders have a higher chance of collecting fresh samples suitable for testing to help work out the cause of the fish kill.  Tell us where and what you saw, including GPS coordinates, numbers of dead fish and, if possible, the species affected. And, if you have photographs, please retain them ready for a call-back.

DPIRD is responsible for responding to fish kill events that occur in ocean environments. DWER manages investigations on fish kills that occur in estuaries, rivers and naturally occurring inland water bodies. The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions manages investigations of fish kills that occur in the Swan Canning Riverpark. In all circumstances, DPIRD’s laboratories carry out testing of any suitable fish samples and this can take some time.     

Fish kills in open ocean areas may provide less evidence of a direct cause and we explore all possible explanations. It may not be possible to identify a single definitive cause, but every effort is made to establish probable factors. More fish kills information can be found on DPIRD’s website.

Last modified: 7/06/2023 5:17 PM

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