Fishers fear health risk

Ted Whittingham
Ted Whittingham Jen Tybell

THE State Government stands by its decision to reopen Gladstone Harbour to fishing, despite the continuing presence of barramundi affected by red-spot disease.

Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace said buyers should feel comfortable eating and purchasing fish caught in the harbour, because food safety laws prevented diseased fish from being sold.

"As no animal product, including seafood, which shows signs of disease or damage can be sold under the Food Act, red-spot disease and the fluke are not considered a risk to human health," he said.

He added it was expected some diseased fish would still be caught and anyone who had should dispose of the fish responsibly on land.

On Friday, Gladstone Fish Market owner Ted Whittingham, and other commercial fishermen, told The Observer they were concerned that, by lifting the ban, the government was passing the buck to commercial fishermen to ensure no diseased fish got through the system.

Fisher Trevor Falzon said he was deeply worried about public health if people ate contaminated fish. Commercial fishermen are responsible for ensuring they do not sell any diseased fish.

"Prawn and mud crab samples examined indicated an erosive shell disease which is most likely the result of bacterial infection by Vibrio spp, which are organisms found in marine waters," a Fisheries Queensland representative said yesterday, responding to a question about the health of mud crabs and prawns.

"These bacteria are opportunistic and cause shell fouling with erosion."

Topics:  fishing ban gladstone harbour state government

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