Dolphin Deaths- Swan River

Question Without Notice No. 639 asked in the Legislative Council on 17 June 2009 by Hon Lynn Maclaren

38 Session: 1


639. Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the Minister for Environment:

I refer to the recent articles in The West Australian of 10 and 11 June this year about the deaths of two river dolphins in the Swan River estuary.

(1) Does the minister agree that there is potential for these deaths to have been caused by pollution and that river dolphins are a potential indicator of river health?

(2) Will the planned post-mortem examinations therefore include tests for highly water-soluble phosphorus fertilisers?

(3) If no to (2), why not?

(4) Will the planned post-mortem examinations also include tests for herbicides that are widely sprayed on riverside foreshore and parklands by local councils, including Roundup Ready and the Bayer Australia product Chipco Spearhead, which the companies warn should not be used in locations that may contaminate streams, rivers and waterways?

(5) If no to (4), why not?


I thank the member for some notice of her question.

(1) The results of the necropsy—apparently they are autopsies for animals; we learn something every day—are inconclusive due to the state of decomposition. The biopsy results are not available, so a cause of death has not been determined. The health of dolphins could be used as one of a range of indicators of river health.

(2) No.

(3) There is no direct link between phosphorus fertilisers and dolphin health.

(4) No.

(5) The current decomposed state of the animals will limit any conclusive results of testing. Chipco Spearhead and Roundup Ready are not considered as a likely cause of death, due to no other river health indicators that show signs of herbicide contamination.

Hon Lynn MacLaren interjected.

The PRESIDENT: The member will have to ask the minister another question.

Parliament of Western Australia
All contents
Copyright © 2010.
All rights reserved. Disclaimer.