In a small farming village near Perth, the air is thick with mould.
“It’s not a good sign,” says the manager of a small fish farm in the northern NSW town of Perth.
“We’ve had mould all the way up to the front of the house.”
The mould is caused by an infestation of brown algae that has colonised the farm.
It was not clear what the cause of the infestation was but the manager says it has been causing problems for months.
“We’ve got three or four fish that have died,” he says.
“They’re dead, they’re dead,” Mr Collins adds.
“There’s no trace of the algae.
We’ve got no trace.”
A similar problem has been reported in the town of Pernell, south of Perth, but there are no reports of fish dying there.
Mr Collins and other farm workers are calling for the establishment of a “mold-free” zone on their property.
“It’s really important that we put a barrier between ourselves and the environment,” he explains.
“So that we don’t have to worry about mould growing inside the farm, that we can’t see it, that if we do see it we can keep it contained.”
He says that a barrier might include fences that prevent mould from getting into the farm or a barrier fence.
Mr Collins says the area is very polluted and it will take several years for the algae to grow back.
“The amount of time that we have to get it back, it’s quite long,” he said.
A report by the Australian Environmental Council says the prevalence of brown algal blooms is higher in Australia than elsewhere in the world.
The report also found there is “little or no evidence” that the algae was causing damage to farmlands.
But a recent study has found that the average annual production of fish in the NSW Central Coast region is lower than in neighbouring Victoria and Queensland.
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