100,000 fish die in hatchery disaster

Updated November 5 2012 - 11:34am, first published October 19 2004 - 11:48am
DEVASTATED: Ballarat Trout Hatchery president Frank Gray with some of the trout killed by the fire. Picture: Jeremy Bannister
DEVASTATED: Ballarat Trout Hatchery president Frank Gray with some of the trout killed by the fire. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

A POWER cut at the Ballarat fish hatchery has resulted in the loss of more than 100,000 trout.
Volunteers were yesterday clearing the Gillies St hatchery of dead fish but estimate that half the stock of 200,000 brown trout fry - valued at $35,000 - has been lost.
Yesterday's losses are the latest set-back for the 133-year-old hatchery, which has seen the drought significantly reduce its sales.
While the hatchery remains open for business, volunteers have warned that brown trout will be in extremely scarce supply next year.
The power loss may have been linked to a fire in the switch room of the nearby Ballarat Tramway Museum yesterday.
It is believed the fire caused a sub-station to trip out, disrupting power to the oxygenated tanks at the hatchery.
However, the hatchery claims to have a back-up system in place lasting up to six hours and believes its power was lost much earlier.
Hatchery volunteer Keith Risdale said the fish could have been saved if the hatchery had known about the power cut earlier.
`I arrived at 7.30am this morning and I thought it was strange that there was no power when I flicked on the light switch,' Mr Risdale said.
`I then checked the fish and there were thousands lying dead on the floor of the tanks while a few others were gasping for air at the surface.
`We managed to save a few fish and thankfully we've not lost any of our rainbow trout.
`But the brown trout is really our stocking trade and numbers for sale will be scarce next year.'
Mr Risdale said the brown trout fry only hatched in August.
It is not clear whether the hatchery will be able to lodge an insurance claim to cover its losses.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Ballarat Tramway Museum estimated the damage from yesterday's fire at $4000.
Firefighters managed to contain the blaze to the switch room and no vintage trams were damaged. The switch room fuses were only recently replaced after a lightning strike hit Ballarat earlier this month, disrupting power
to the museum.
A Powercor spokesman yesterday expressed regret at the hatchery's loss but blamed circumstances beyond the company's control.
He said the hatchery would have been alerted to the power loss had an alarm system been fitted from the affected sub-station.

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