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Two-headed Fish Larvae Blamed On Farm Chemicals In Noosa River


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Two-headed fish larvae blamed on farm chemicals in Noosa River

Brian Williams and Sophie Elsworth

January 12, 2009 11:00pm

CHEMICAL contamination from farm runoff has been blamed after millions of fish larvae in the Noosa River were found to have grown two heads.

The disfigured larvae are thought to have been affected by one of two popular farm chemicals, either the insecticide endosulphan or the fungicide carbendazim.

Former NSW fisheries scientist and aquaculture veterinarian Matt Landos yesterday called on the Federal Government to ban the chemicals and urgently find replacements.

Dr Landos said about 90 per cent of larvae spawned at the Sunland Fish Hatchery from bass taken from the river were deformed and all died within 48 hours.

"It certainly looks like the fish have been exposed to something in the river," Dr Landos said.

"I wouldn't like to be having kids and living next to a place that uses these chemicals and I wouldn't like to be drinking tank water where they are in use."

Hatchery owner Gwen Gilson blames chemicals used by macadamia farmers near her Boreen Point business for the deformities.

"Some embryos split into two heads, some had two equal heads and a small tail and some had one big long head and a small tail coming out of the head," she said.

Farmers nearby declined to comment.

Dr Landos said the chemicals were potentially human carcinogens and could have entered the river through any number of sources such as spraying or run-off even though there was no evidence of improper use.

Carbendazim had a history of causing embryonic defects and had been banned in the US, while endosulphan was banned in New Zealand.

"These chemicals mess up cell development," he said. "There's no other plausible explanation for what's going on."

Biosecurity Queensland chief Ron Glanville said an investigation into the claims started two years ago.

No evidence of chemicals used on an adjoining property were found in water, fish, fish eggs, chooks and horse samples.

"These things are notoriously hard to track down," he said.

Dr Landos and Dr Glanville said there was no danger for people either swimming or eating fish from the Noosa River because if chemicals were in the water, levels would likely be exceedingly low.

The Federal Environment Department has been asked to investigate.

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Two heads, one tale

Simon Webster

January 18, 2009


Fishermen standing on one leg frequently toppled into the water ...

The discovery of two-headed fish in the Noosa River may give the floundering Australian economy a much-needed boost, analysts say.

Tourism operators were expecting anglers to head to the river in their thousands in the hope of twice as many bites.

Along the banks of the river, anglers were coming to terms with their changing world. Wild gesticulations and contortions were the order of the day as fisherfolk worked on their hand signals in a bid to accurately indicate the dimensions of "the one that got away".

Two hands held a metre apart would no longer suffice, a fishing official said. Both hands would be needed to represent the two heads of the fish, while a raised knee could be used to indicate the whereabouts of its tail.

This led to a busy day for Noosa River lifesavers as fishermen standing on one leg frequently toppled into the water.

The fish mutations were probably the result of pesticide spray drift from nearby macadamia farms, The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week.

The pesticide endosulfan and the fungicide carbendazim were identified in a report given to the Queensland Government by aquatic health expert Matt Landos.

While nothing has been proved, there were no other probable causes for the thousands of fish deformities and deaths at the hatchery.

"The timing between the mist spraying and the affected larvae fits hand in glove," Landos said.

Carbendazim is under review in Australia due to its links with developmental abnormalities in animals.

Last week New Zealand became the 56th country to ban endosulfan, an organochloride (the same family as DDT) and an endocrine disruptor that the United States Environmental Protection Agency rates as category 1: "Highly acutely toxic."

In 2006 in Kerala, India, compensation was paid to the families of 135 people who had died as a result of endosulfan spraying. Studies showed exposure to the pesticide had also caused birth defects and delayed the sexual maturity of boys.

It has been found in breast milk around the world and linked to autism when babies are exposed to it in the first trimester of pregnancy. In the US, environmental and workers groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for reregistering it.

In October the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants will consider elevating the pesticide to the final stage of assessment, which may lead to a worldwide ban.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority insists it has everything under control. It completed a review of endosulfan's use in 2005 and toughened the rules governing its use. For example, plants treated with endosulfan can no longer be fed to livestock, which is great news for beef lovers, who should no longer find traces of it in their steak.

They may, however, find traces of it in their citrus, avocados, vegetables, cotton, macadamias and passionfruit. It is considered an important tool in growing all of these, said authority spokesman Simon Cubit.

"More than 200 chemicals are approved for use on macadamias," Cubit said. "We've seen no evidence that endosulfan, used correctly, causes problems." Any evidence that did arise would be considered.

The Australian Macadamia Society said the macadamia farms on the Noosa River were using it correctly. Miss Marple has been sent to investigate.

The fact that other countries had banned endosulfan did not mean Australia was negligent for not following suit, Cubit said. New Zealand used endosulfan differently. Australian conditions were unique, and other countries deregistered chemicals for all sorts of reasons.

Some bans were the result of high-level policy decisions, such as those being made by the European Union. Despite intense pressure from big agribusiness, the EU is clamping down on pesticides and making a concerted push towards promoting organic agriculture.

This produces clean, healthy food that is better for people, better for the environment, and tastes of something other than cardboard.

What those crazy Europeans don't realise is the business opportunity they may be missing out on. Fish hatcheries throughout Australia last week said they had been inundated with inquiries about the mutant fish from pet owners with two cats.

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Two heads, one tale

Simon Webster

January 18, 2009


..........Fishermen standing on one leg frequently toppled into the water ...

........This led to a busy day for Noosa River lifesavers as fishermen standing on one leg frequently toppled into the water........

To land on your feet after the stock market crash, it might be a good idea to push this point and start up a website and market lifesavers for hire franchises.


jewgaffer :1fishing1:

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