Aquaculture for all

Closure Lifted In Gladstone, Despite Sick Fish

Sustainability Food safety & handling +3 more

AUSTRALIA - Surveys of Gladstone fishing areas over the past few weeks are indicating a decrease in the number of fish with lesions or cloudy eyes. Despite Fisheries Queensland lifting a ban on fishing in the area, local fish markets have begun to refuse fish caught in the area.

General Manager of Habitat and Assessment Dr John Robertson said Fisheries Queensland had conducted a number of supervised fishing trips over the past week and results had been encouraging.

"I wish to make it clear that the closure in Gladstone wasnt lifted by Fisheries Queensland because there are no sick fish, rather the identified conditions are not a concern," Dr Robertson said.

"The decision to lift the closure was not taken lightly but made following expert advice and scientific test results.

"Scientific testing by the Department of Environment and Resource Management has found little change in water quality in the Harbour over the past year including since dredging began. The exception was following this years major flooding events when water salinity decreased.

"The Acting Chief Health Officer has advised that no clear link has been established between the fish and infection cases identified in humans.

"Test results on fish samples have confirmed the symptoms were caused by red-spot disease and a parasite, which do occur in Queensland and are not unexpected given flooding earlier this year and the cool weather.

Past experience shows the conditions will naturally pass out of the environment, so they are not a reason to prohibit fishing and are not considered a risk to human health if the appropriate food safety standards are followed.

Dr Robertson said additional laboratory testing of fish samples was also continuing to help Fisheries Queensland assess the extent of affected fish in the Gladstone area.

"New test results have shown that apart from barramundi, no other fin fish had red-spot disease or the parasite," he said.

"Mud crabs and prawns submitted for testing all had evidence of erosion consistent with shell disease that does occur occasionally."

Dr Robertson said any seafood, regardless of where it was caught or purchased, that showed signs of damage, deterioration or disease should not be eaten.

"Seafood available through retail outlets is from regulated and wide-ranging sources and continues to be safe to purchase and eat," he said.

"The community can be confident of local seafood, as it must meet national standards for suitability and food safety, otherwise severe penalties apply."

Gladstone Fish Market Management has yesterday decided to no longer receive all estuary fish species and mud crabs from the exclusion and fishing ban zone.

The Fish Market's Simon Whittingham says he's appalled at the Minister of Fisheries and Gladstone Ports Corporation claims that they'd eat fish caught within the Gladstone Harbour port limits.

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.