A LARGE number of fish have been washing up in the Boyne River and South Trees Inlet, which runs off the Boyne.
There is no doubt that the fish deaths are linked with recent rains, but an investigation will determine whether the fish spilled over Awoonga Dam.
Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell visited Gladstone on Wednesday and confirmed fish had been found and samples were being collected.
He said work had only just begun and he had no information about the number of fish, or which species were most prevalent, But he did say it seemed they had come over Awoonga Dam.
He said they appeared to be mostly fresh water species, although he emphasised it was too early to make conclusions.
This topic is sure to draw fierce debate.
During the 2010-11 floods, Awoonga Dam spilled over and, depending which statistic you believe, between 20,000 and 30,000 barramundi spilled from the fresh water of Lake Awoonga into the brackish and sea water of the Boyne River and Gladstone Harbour.
No definitive explanation was ever found for the illness that struck barramundi in the area a few months later, but the preferred theory of Fisheries Queensland was that the barramundi had been healthy when they left the lake, were battered going over the dam wall and then were placed under immense physical pressure by their injuries, intense competition for food and the sudden change to saline water.
One major difference between the current situation and the floods of 2010-11 is that two years ago, there were clear sightings of large numbers of fish jumping over the dam wall, whereas this week no fish appear to have been seen going over the dam.
The question appears to be whether the dead fish being found now died as a result of coming over the Awoonga Dam, or if they were already in the Boyne River and South Trees Inlet and the violent torrent of fresh, muddy water killed them.