The department said fish had not been tested for mercury because sediment and water had already been tested and no detectable levels of mercury were found.
The department said fish had not been tested for mercury because sediment and water had already been tested and no detectable levels of mercury were found. Contributed

Fish will get mercury testing

BIOSECURITY Queensland will test fish captured during Gladstone Harbour's fish disease scare last year for mercury.

The decision comes after criticism last week fish had not been tested for mercury in toxicology tests.

Despite the turnaround, the department defended its decision not to test for mercury originally.

A representative said the decision to begin testing for mercury was taken to ensure public confidence.

The department said fish had not been tested for mercury because sediment and water had already been tested and no detectable levels of mercury were found.

"For the first round of metal toxicology testing on fish, mercury and lead levels were not analysed because the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project EIA for Gladstone Harbour did not find dissolved lead and mercury at detectable levels over a six-month sampling period," the representative said.

"It was therefore considered unlikely that lead and mercury were causative agents for the clinical signs observed in the fish, crustaceans and molluscs examined as part of the fish health investigation."

Law Essentials lawyer Michael Garrahy, who represents a number of commercial fishermen in their bid for compensation for the LNG projects, said he welcomed the mercury testing.

He said it was in line with the recent recommendation by an independent scientific panel that testing be expanded to cover more elements.

Mr Garrahy said the experts' calls for a wider range of testing needed to be taken seriously.

Professor Craig Franklin, from the University of Queensland and an expert in fish physiology, said he agreed with the reasoning that finding no detectable mercury levels in sediment meant there was little need to test for mercury in fish.

Despite agreeing with the department's reason for not testing for mercury, Prof Franklin said he still had concerns about the long-term impacts of the dredging project.



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