Tourism at one of NSW’s most popular fishing spots is under threat from a gruesome fish disease.
Hundreds of bream and other popular recreational fishing species have been found dead or dying in recent weeks in the Myall River system, north of Newcastle.
Many are covered in huge red ulcers and sores – a common symptom of a fungal disease known as red spot.
Tests on dead fish are under way but past outbreaks in other parts of NSW have been due to acid runoff from soil – a common problem after protracted dry weather followed by heavy rain.
Gordon Grainger, who has fished the area for more than 40 years, fears that if the disease spreads it could affect the region’s multi-million dollar tourism industry.
“You can imagine what would happen if someone came here for a holiday and caught one of these fish. They wouldn’t be back,” he said.
Mr Grainger and other veteran anglers are blaming the recent fish kill on an unseasonally wet winter.