2004 September: Rotenone to be used to Kill Trout

State Looked At Poison Plan To Cut Trout Numbers

The Age Thursday September 23, 2004

Richard Baker, State Political Reporter

The State Government has considered using a pesticide that causes Parkinson’s disease symptoms in rats to eradicate trout from streams and rivers in Victoria.

Documents reveal that the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s plan to boost the population of an endangered native fish, barred galaxias, includes use of the pesticide rotenone to kill trout.

Rotenone has been effective in removing trout overseas, but it could lead to the death of other species because it kills insects that form the basis of the food chain. Norwegian research published last year showed rotenone killed up to 99 per cent of invertebrates in trials.

“The poisoning of sections of streams below barred galaxias populations, where trout are the only populations present, will need to be undertaken,” the plan said.

“These measures, not previously practised in Victoria to eradicate exotic species and rehabilitate stream sections for the use of threatened fauna, are necessary because of the urgent need to stabilise the dramatic decline of the barred galaxias.”

A department spokesman last night said the Government had no plans to use rotenone to kill trout. It would need the approval of the Environment Protection Authority each time it wanted to use it, he said.

“When any animal is listed as threatened we’ve got to list an action statement, but not everything on that statement is necessarily used,” he said. “We’re not planning to do so.”

Rivers where it would be most likely used to help boost barred galaxias numbers include the Goulburn, Howqua and Jamieson, as well as the streams feeding Lake Eildon.

Recent international scientific studies have linked rotenone, which is derived from the roots of tropical legumes, with symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease in studies on rats. Symptoms included uncontrollable muscle tremors and loss of balance.

Despite the Government’s assurance that is has no plan to use rotenone, the State Opposition, the Murrindindi Shire Council and the Australian Trout Foundation have expressed concerns, and said there were senior people within the department who wanted to use rotenone.

Opposition environment spokesman Phil Honeywood said there needed to be an independent inquiry held before rotenone was used in Victoria.