Holes emerge in Harbour report

THE final report from a scientific panel charged with reviewing fish disease problems in Gladstone Harbour has been brought down before the majority of results from crucial toxicology testing were completed.

Released last Friday, the report of the Gladstone Fish Health Scientific Panel said one of its main aims was to review "the pathology and toxicology testing of seafood" samples from the area.

But despite being listed in the panel's terms of reference, the panel was given just three months to review all the available data, completing its final report before the results of more than 60 toxicology samples had been returned to the government.

According to a report from December by the Gladstone Harbour Fish Health-Water Quality Oversight Committee, Biosecurity Queensland had submitted some 67 samples to a toxicology laboratory, but the results of just three samples have, to date, been publicly released, while a further 64 results were still pending when the panel reported.

That report said initial toxicology results on prawns and scallops from outside the harbour area had also been received, but the department was waiting on full results, including metals testing, before releasing them.

Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace said the report concluded that "water quality monitoring results do not indicate unusual trends which establish a causal relationship between the condition of fish and water quality or sediment in Gladstone Harbour".

But the panel did recommend that the "identification of potential causal agent(s) should be the focus of future investigations".

The report said a lack of "normal baseline values" for fish and human disease could make it more difficult to conclusively determine what caused the fish disease.

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