Gladstone's seafood: safe or not?

THE reputation of seafood from Gladstone Harbour has taken a hammering recently, but authorities say that should not be the case.

The state's food-safety regulator yesterday confirmed a number of wholesalers are accepting and selling seafood caught in Gladstone Harbour and said it is safe to do so.

Safefood Production Queensland principal compliance and strategy officer David Wilkinson said the onus was on the seafood processors to make assessments about each product.

Read full statement from Safefood Queensland's David Wilkinson

Read full response from Gladstone Fish Market owner Simon Whittingham

"In relation to the matter of seafood from Gladstone generally, SFPQ believes product that is subjected to the ordinary inspection protocols is suitable and fit for purpose," Mr Wilkinson said. "In other words, if seafood that is identified by a fisher or a seafood processor as being unsuitable by way of it 8 demonstrating visible abnormalities is excluded from the supply chain, then that is all that needs to be done."

That statement did not satisfy Gladstone Fish Market owner Simon Whittingham, who yesterday stood by his decision not to sell seafood from the harbour until SFPQ provides him with a written statement that it was safe to do so.

"With so much doubt and inadequate actions taken by the then government (last year) we had no choice but to prioritise on our consumers' health and our international brand, Mr Whittingham said of the decision to stop selling seafood from Gladstone Harbour.

"In response to the inadequacies shown by Fisheries Queensland, the commercial fishing industry and community members engaged a veterinarian who advised the product is not fit for human consumption."

Mr Whittingham said his position had not changed.

Key points:

  • David Wilkinson said other wholesalers outside Gladstone were safely accepting seafood from the harbour. "As to seafood that does not display any external signs of disease or deterioration, then this can be harvested, processed and supplied," he said.
  • Simon Whittingham said he was aware that other wholesalers were accepting product from Gladstone Harbour, but he would not be "embarassed into a backflip" from the decision taken last year by Gladstone Fish Market to stop selling seafood from the exclusion zone in place for three weeks in September last year.
  • Mr Whittingham said yesterday's statements by Safefood Queensland did not remove his "legal obligation to human health."
  • Mr Wilkinson said SFPQ had "extended a number of invitations to Simon Whittingham to meet and discuss these and other matters," but those offers had not been taken up.

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