Aquaculture for all

Exposure to Chemicals Linked to Fish Deformity


AUSTRALIA - The aquaculture veterinarian invited to join the State Governments taskforce investigating two-headed fish larvae at a hatchery near the Noosa River remains convinced that exposure to toxic chemicals from neighbouring macadamia orchards is the "most probable explanation".

Future Fisheries Veterinary Services principal Dr Matt Landos, who has been investigating the fish larvae deformities at Gwen Gilson’s Sunland Freshwater Fish Hatchery at Boreen Point, said the unintended movement of chemicals Endosulfan and Carbendazim were suspected of causing deformities and mortalities of fish larvae at the hatchery.

The Pesticide Action Network UK says Carbendazim, a "gender-bending fungicide" is of major concern due to its suspected hormone disrupting effects. The Federal Government’s Australian Pest-icides and Veterinary Medicines Authority began a review of Carbendazim in 2007 due to occupational health and safety, resident and public health concerns. Ms Gilson said the human implications of the case showed how important it was for the taskforce to "get it right".

There are concerns of a "cancer cluster", with reports of incidents of cancer in people living and working at and near the hatchery.

According to The Noosa Journal, the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F;) has been investigating the fish deaths and complaints by Ms Gilson of chemical spray drift for two years, but only announced the taskforce two weeks ago.

Minister Tim Mulherin said the taskforce, which includes Dr Landos, DPI&F;officers, the Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland Health, and an independent eco-toxicologist, would investigate what was causing the fish deaths and abnormalities.

A spokesman for Mr Mulherin said advice from officers suggested it could be a year before the taskforce delivered its final report.

Dr Landos said the taskforce was a positive sign that the problem would be properly investigated.

"It would have been a dereliction of DPI&F;’s duty to protect its aquaculture industry and fisheries resources, should it not have acted," Dr Landos said.