Clean up on Eight Mile push

Thursday February 01, 2024

THREE weeks after a large number of dead marine life washed ashore, residents are up in arms about the lack of clean up.

Earlier this month, a number of deceased wobbegong and Port Jackson sharks washed ashore near Eight Mile Creek with Primary Industries South Australia (PIRSA) claiming it was due to the freshwater rainfall lowering oxygen levels.

Residents living along the shoreline are now calling on the state government and the District Council of Grant to get into gear and clean up the rotting carcasses.

Living less than 500m from the shore near Deep Creek, resident Dale Button said the smell and potential occupational health and safety issues regarding the carcasses has prevented him from visiting the beach.

Mr Button said he believed the carcasses should have been taken away while PIRSA was collecting samples after the incident first occurred, stating his own son has stopped visiting the beach joining onto his property due to the smell.

"The handing it from one government department to another and back and forth is just out of control," Mr Button said.

"Someone has to take control and PIRSA is the one in my opinion.

"The stink is horrible, I am not going down to the beach because I do not know if I am going to get diseases from the fish and the smell is putrid."

Mr Button said he typically sat atop of a small hill each evening looking out over the ocean, with a beer in hand yet had not been there since the marine life washed ashore. "I cannot go and sit on the beach and have a beer because of the stink down there," he said.

"There are 20-odd dead fish close to my home and they are still there." He said his son typically visited him with his grandchildren yet has since taken them to a different beach due to concerns around the rotting carcases.

"You cannot have kids on a beach near that and I think the people responsible is PIRSA," Mr Button said. "If this happened on the west-side of the Murray River it would have been cleaned up.

"Just because we live down here, they do not class us as part of South Australia and it is about time they lifted their game in Adelaide."

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said he thought it was "extremely disappointing" the marine life had not been cleaned up.

He said he had received complaints from a number of local residents and campers regarding the smell and the potential for other diseases.

"If this occurred in a metropolitan area it would have been cleaned up on the same day or dealt with in some other way," Mr Bell said. "There seems to be some confusion around whose responsibility it is and this way people get really sick and tired of departments passing the blame onto somebody else."

He said ultimately it did not matter who was responsible as long as the carcasses were removed. "We may have future instances of these so there needs to be a plan put in place which can lead to the rectification of the beach line," Mr Bell said.

"There are people and dogs who enjoy that part of the coastline so to just let it sit there and rot away with the smell is pretty disappointing."

Mr Bell said he would also classify the rotting carcasses as an occupational health and safety issue for beach-goers and questioned the environmental impact on those who live close to the area. "If this had occurred in a built-up area it would have been dealt with straight away," he said.

t because you live in a regional area or where there is less population that does not mean you do not deserve the same service as somebody in Adelaide, it just needs to be dealt with. "There are a lot of people who visit our area and that is not the impression we want them to take away."

District Council of Grant chief executive Darryl Whicker said council was aware of the ongoing investigation as to the cause from PIRSA.

"We have not received any further communication and it is my understanding that it is going to take a coordinated state agency effort to undertake the clean up," Mr Whicker said. "Council looks forward to being part of that conversation."

A state government spokesperson said when these types of events occur, PIRSA would work together with the "relevant council" to "investigate and where possible, determine the cause".

"PIRSA's primary role is to rule out exotic disease," the spokesperson said. "Normally when a fish kill occurs, there is no need for the dead fish to be removed or cleaned up and the carcasses should be left to provide food for other organisms or to decompose as part of the ecosystem process.

In most cases the carcasses will be gone within a few days. "Local councils have the necessary equipment to clean up beaches and waterways following natural fish kills, should there be a need to do so."

They said if a member of the public had concerns about the amenity of the beach following a natural event, they should contact their local council.

If they see a suspected fish kill, they are able to report it to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.