NEWS ALERT - Gladstone Harbour fishing closure

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Infected fish blamed for recent illnesses in fishing families

NEWS ALERT - Gladstone Harbour fishing closure
NEWS ALERT — Gladstone Harbour fishing closure

Results from infected fish caught in the Gladstone Harbour area are expected to be released early next week. Fisheries Queensland last week placed a 21-day ban over fishing in the area, while tests are undertaken, following pressure from the local fishing industry.

Recreational (including catch and release), commercial and charter fishing will not be permitted in the area, and those that break the ban are liable for fines up to $200,000. The boundaries for the temporary closure are between Deception Creek at the top end of The Narrows down to Rodds Peninsula and to the outer edge of Facing Island, an area of 500km².

Ted Whittingham, managing director of the Gladstone Fish Market, told ABC Radio National this morning, that signs were not right with some of the fish as early as February.

"The problems began to exacerbate in May and by August we alerted authorities to the problem," said Whittinham.

"It started off with rashes on sharks, it then really started ramping-up in the barramundi, with what we call Red Eye. (Their eyes have a red circle around them, and they look to have cataracts over their eyes and they look blind).

"This got to the point where around 30 per cent of the fish were infected by this and we started to see some red rashes.

"Later on in mid-August, we started to get some serious lesions on the outside of the fish and some very nasty looking abscesses.

"That’s when we said, ‘look, this has gone too far, this is far and beyond just a little problem’," he said, adding that people handling the diseased fish were also becoming ill.

"We’ve had numerous fisherman now under serious medical care, we’ve had one fisherman in hospital for five days, we’ve had numerous fisherman on serious antibiotics, we’ve got a number of fisherman now under blood testing regimes, we’ve had two children, that I know of, from a fishing family, get infected; also one of the wives who was in the boat with a fisherman got infected," Whittingham said.

According to the news report, Biosecurity Queensland is testing nine barramundi and one cod, with results expected next week.

The report also said some locals are blaming dredging operations around the multi-billion-dollar Santos GLNG liquefied natural gas plant on nearby Curtiss Island as the likely cause of the fish infections.

The Gladstone fishing closure applies to all tidal waters including rivers, creeks and other waterways.
According to Fisheries Queensland, the closure will be enforced while testing is conducted on locally caught fish that are showing signs of illness. "This is to ensure that any fish that are potentially unsuitable for human consumption will not enter the food chain," it said.

The Department advises that fish caught outside of the closure area showing signs of illness should be disposed of on land, not returned to the water or consumed.

The Queensland Government said it will continue to monitor the situation closely and is consulting with the Queensland Seafood Industry Association and Sunfish Queensland. Fisheries Queensland will advise when the closure is lifted.

Anyone who has a concern about their health after handling or consuming seafood should seek medical advice.

For complaints about the sale of unsatisfactory or unsafe seafood, phone Queensland Health at 13HEALTH (13 432 584) or visit

For further information about the temporary fishing closure, phone 13 25 23 or visit

Maps: Gladstone fishing bans are within the red-line boundaries.


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