Authorities are warning people not to eat dead and dying fish that have washed up on the banks of the Greenough River near Geraldton this week.
About 3000 dead fish were discovered on Tuesday in the lower section of the river around Cape Burney, according to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
“DWER sent officers to the area where they observed dead fish in a 100-metre area along the north shore and adjacent to the boat ramp,” a spokesperson said.
“DWER officers identified the species as bony herring (75 per cent) and black bream (20 per cent). The remaining five per cent were whiting and hardyhead.”
While most people kept their distance, some people could be seen scooping up nets full of fish — presumably to cook and eat.
“Contact with dead fish should be avoided and the Department of Health advises against eating or handling fish found in these circumstances,” the spokesperson said.
“Fish specimens were collected by DWER and will be assessed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. DWER is analysing phytoplankton sample.
“Fish deaths are often water quality related such as reduced dissolved oxygen and changes in salinity, which is consistent with the recent rains and high tides in the area.”
DWER is still investigating what killed the fish.