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Polluted Noosa?


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Three-headed fish at Queensland hatchery09:30 AEST Mon Jul 13 Jul 13, 2009

A mutant three-headed fish has been found at a fish hatchery on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Half of all mullets bred at the Sunland Freshwater Fish Hatchery in spawning events on July 5 and 6 showed cell abnormalities, the Brisbane Times reports.

Some of the fish, bred from seven mullets taken from Noosa River, had two heads and a single mullet fry was reportedly found with three heads.

Queensland authorities already investigating mass fish deaths and deformities linked to the Noosa River ecosystem said they will include this latest incident in their inquiry.

This is the second batch of mutant fish to appear at Sunland, after the discovery of two-headed bass larvae sparked a Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries inquiry last year.

Sunland hatchery owner Gwen Gilson said her business was "going down the tubes".

She suspects that chemicals sprayed at a nearby macadamia farm are to blame for the genetic defects and spike in fish deaths at her hatchery, at Boreen Point.

"All the neighbours are scared when they hear the tractors [spraying chemicals]," she was quoted by The Sunshine Coast Daily as saying.

"[The farm] does not have to tell us when they are doing it."

Department authorities will conduct tests on these latest mutant eggs and embryos as well as some of the seven mullets used to breed the abnormal specimens.

Last month authorities released an interim report saying it was "possible" chemical sprays are behind the fish deaths and deformities — which have also been discovered at other breeding sites linked to Noosa River — but could not identify which chemical may be at fault.

Ms Gilson said it is hard keeping up with the number of fish samples that biosecurity authorities require for testing and she reckons not all fish hatcheries are complying either.

"We are the only ones handing over information — but if you only have half the data how can you work out what's happening?" she was quoted by the Coast Daily as saying.

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