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Temporary Closure Of Commercial Fishing In Sydney Harbour

Ken A

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A temporary ban has been placed on commercial fishing in Sydney Harbour after tests revealed elevated dioxin levels in fish, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said.

The closure is effective as of today, and will remain in force for three months, or until further expert advice.

“Test results have revealed elevated levels of dioxin in bream across the harbour,” Minister Macdonald said.

“As a precautionary measure, the State Government has acted immediately to close commercial fishing in the harbour.

“I have also asked the chief scientist from the NSW Department of Primary Industries to review current world standards for dioxins in fish and report back.”

“It’s important to note there is no national acceptable level for dioxins in foods in Australia. However, test results of fish from Sydney Harbour indicated dioxin readings well above World Health Organisation and European levels.

The closure will not impact on the supply of fish to local seafood shops and markets, as finfish from Sydney Harbour account for less than 2% of the total amount sold in NSW.

Today’s move follows the closure of prawning operations in the Sydney Harbour last month. At that time the NSW Government ordered additional finfish tests. It also established an independent expert panel to provide scientific analysis of the full test results. The panel met late yesterday and provided its assessment to the NSW Food Authority, which today recommended that the temporary ban be put in place.

The expert panel has previously advised that Sydney Harbour prawns caught for sale as bait only did not pose a risk and can therefore continue.

Minister Macdonald said recreational fishing from the Harbour was not banned but urged fishers to follow strict dietary advice.

“The expert panel has recommended anglers eat only 150g serve of fish caught from the Harbour per month,” Mr Macdonald said. “Anyone concerned can also follow a simple ‘catch and release’ policy.

“I would like to point out that water quality in Sydney Harbour is the cleanest it has been in decades. The issue is with sediments on the harbour floor, which have been exposed to industrial pollution dating back over the past 100 years, and the migratory patterns of fish from polluted areas like Homebush Bay into the cleaner waters of Port Jackson.

“The Government has been working for years to clean up Harbour pollution at former industrial sites, such as Union Carbide at Homebush Bay, to help address this legacy.”

Media contact: Jason Bartlett on 02 9228 3344 or 0403 454 543.

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Love or hate the pros somebody must answer the legalities of it all and dollars are mounting. If this mess lingers then the recreational side of things will suffer as well. A reasonable big cheque looks like the answer because if not then the Hawkesbury sewer drain will get more attention and you never know what testing will bring up there as well. Catch and release is ok for some but the food gathering is most important.

Remember dioxin problems don't go away and they get passed on through the breeding cycle (as stated in the tele reports)

I guess any solution would require affected marine life removed from the system as well.

A long way to go here I would think.

Bob Smith

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