May 252014

Original story by , The Chronicle

Gladstone Harbour. Photo: David Sparkes

Gladstone Harbour. Photo: David Sparkes

DISEASED fish are again being pulled from the waters of Gladstone Harbour, almost two and a half years after the harbour was closed amid a contamination scare.

But while one fisherman has pulled in a load of fish he believed was diseased, wholesalers and authorities in the region have not reported a wider trend to date.

A disease outbreak in 2011 coincided with a major dredging project underway by Gladstone Ports Corporation, the first stage of which was completed last year.

That controversial project is currently the subject of a class action in Brisbane courts, with numerous Gladstone fishers and crabbers seeking compensation for lost grounds.

Third-generation fisherman Mark McMillan, who is also a party to the court action, said he pulled in a load of 50kg of diseased blue salmon on Monday May 12.

“The diseases from back then don’t seemed to have cleared up completely – I pulled in close to 50kg of blue salmon, and 100% were rejected by wholesalers because they had red eyes and rashes,” Mr McMillan said.

“I was off the harbour for about a year and half after I had a fall; but since I returned in November last year, I’m still pulling in sick fish.”

But Mr McMillan said he had not reported the catch to the Fisheries Department or other authorities, as he thought it may not be taken seriously.

“Every time you go fishing it seems to have gotten worse, I’m starting to get a bit jack of it all,” he said.

“Every now and then I’ve pulled one or two that looked a bit sic, but not had a whole load that was rejected.”

But wholesalers across the region said they stopped buying fish caught from the harbour, due partly to the fear of some sort of on-going problem.

Those at processors, who asked not be named, said most fishers in the Gladstone region were avoiding the harbour area as a precaution.

Questions about the current environmental circumstances in the harbour were not answered by the ports corporation.

The Fisheries Department has not responded as to whether there have been any similar reports of diseased catches in the region in recent times.

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