The Queensland Greens have today urged the community to be on their guard over state government spin in its response to the final Gladstone fish health report due before the end of the year.
"We have had months of refusal by the government to intervene in the massive dredging program by Gladstone Ports Corporation even while there have been record deaths of sea turtles, dolphins and dugong.
"They have done this by claiming the high turbidity levels were natural events and arguing there is no proof of any link between diseased marine life and turbidity," Queensland Greens state spokesperson Libby Connors said this afternoon.
"But according to the interim report released in early December only three barramundi have undergone toxicological testing.
"We are worried that this is going to make it very difficult for the scientific panel to present any definitive findings," Dr Connors said.
Dr Andrew Jeremijenko, Queensland Greens member and environmental medicine specialist, said that statements from DERM, Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace and Gladstone Ports Corporation have minimised the concerning findings in the reports and have not made it clear that diseased fish from
Gladstone harbour should not be eaten.
"Government reports have contained data regarding high turbidity in dredge affected areas, high total aluminium levels associated with high turbidity
and high aluminium in the gills of diseased fish.
"Acid Sulphate soils in dredge material and aluminium are known to be toxic to gills of fish and other marine life.
"So it is not surprising that local fishermen are continuing to report disease in a wide variety of marine life including fish, sharks, crabs and prawns and that seafood businesses in Gladstone are being severely impacted.
Dr Jeremijenko said that he hoped the independent panel report would shed new light on these disturbing findings and recommend further high quality research.
The government promised the report would be available by the end of the year but recent media indicates that it might not be available for another fortnight.
Dr Connors said that she hoped that the timing of the report's release was not a political decision to defer until everyone is busily enjoying family
time between Christmas and New Year.
Contact: Dr Libby Connors or Dr Andrew Jeremijenko