Tragic news on 14th March 2022 as many local Altona residents reported hundreds of dead carp floating in Cherry Lake. The local authorities have attended the location which is popular for its walking and cycling trails and fishing. They have confirmed that 12,000 litres of surfactant a cleaning product had entered the stormwater drains after a fire outbreak and entered its way into Cherry Lake killing thousands of carp.
It’s a shocking sight walking the banks and seeing so many dead fish floating along the banks. A health warning has been issued to local residents to stay as far away from the toxic water, while authorities investigate who is responsible. The EPA has closed the area and issued warning signs around the lake as they take on the horrendous task of removing hundreds of dead fish one by one.
“People should avoid contact with waters at Cherry Lake and Cherry Creek, Altona this pollution incident that may take some time to remediate,” the EPA said in a statement. “There is also a large number of dead fish reported. Do not consume any fish until further notice and Pet owners have also been warned to not let their animals swim in the water“.
This spill will have long term devastating effects. Melbourne Water is investigating how much damage it has caused and will continue to cause. The local birdlife, fish including carp, tench and perch, plus eels and all the local fauna all will be greatly impacted.
The impact goes well beyond the local wildlife. Many I know to fish the lake several times a week. Catching a few carp for enjoyment within a close-by local suburban setting has become a part of their daily lives. Yes, it’s only carp but they follow all the rules and guidelines and just take pleasure in targeting these large suburban fish close to home. Part of Cherry Lake also finds its way into the reaches of Port Phillip Bay so it may be some time before we see the true effects on other areas.
For many like myself, my roots in fishing were conducted at places like Cherry Lake. Using simple gear, simple baits like corn and bread and taking much pleasure out of catching some very sizable mud marlins is an introduction that has sparked a passion. West Melbourne as a whole already has a severe shortage inland base fishing options with the closure of Wyndham harbour Rockwall and now Cherry Lake. I have had several meetings with local authorities on investment and education that’s needed on this side of town which is a rapidly growing population but true lack of thought leadership and local fishing initiatives.
This mess will take some time to clean up, lets hope the investigation is thorough and the culprits are held responsible. That any fines issues are reinvested in back into the system to make it great for families and local fishers again.