High mercury levels found in NT barra

THE Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc (AFANT) has called on the NT Government for wider testing of fish in the Daly River and other areas of the NT in light of recent test results showing above average levels of mercury in the Daly’s barramundi.

“While any elevated levels of mercury in fish are a concern it’s important that the community understands that the results are below the safe levels set by FSANZ”. Said AFANT President Warren de With.

“AFANT is concerned that the FSANZ report raises more questions than it provides answers; the inconsistency in reporting, species tested, and the level of information provided makes comparing the results of the testing almost impossible.”

“It’s not clear why barramundi are the only species included in the August 2012 report on the Daly River which is different to previous reports making the two sets of results difficult to compare.”

“Barramundi are recognised by FSANZ as a higher risk species for the accumulation of mercury and simple precautions should be taken by high risk groups including pregnant women and children.”

“Government now has an obligation to address the serious information gaps to better inform the community of all possible risks and causes and appropriate measures that need to be taken.”

“From the national and international data on barramundi, larger older fish are more likely to have higher levels of mercury build up than smaller younger fish so AFANT’s key message of ‘let the big barra go’ is even more pertinent.”

“AFANT has called on the government to conduct wider testing of fish to ascertain if the elevated levels are due to natural mercury accumulation in barramundi or if this is a Daly River specific issue.”

“AFANT has also requested a catchment study of potential point sources in the catchment, including old mining sites that may be causing higher than expected mercury levels.”

“When it comes to potential issues of public health, government has an obligation to ensure all potential risks are identified and the community has the facts so they can make informed decisions.” Mr de With said.

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