Fishing closures at Williamtown to be lifted

27 Sep 2016

Fishing closures of Tilligerry Creek and Fullerton Cove in response to the Williamtown RAAF PFAS contamination will be lifted on Saturday 1 October 2016 while an ongoing restriction will be placed on dusky flathead caught in the Hunter River for commercial fishers, as Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries implements recommendations of the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel.

Deputy Director General DPI Fisheries, Geoff Allan, said the closures would be lifted as part of the Fisheries Management Response which responds to advice provided by the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel.

“Reopening Tilligerry Creek and Fullerton Cove to both commercial and recreational fishers was recommended by the Williamtown Expert Panel and follows the Commonwealth’s Human Health Risk Assessment and the enHealth Guideline review,” Dr Allan said.

“These fishing closures have been in place since September 2015 and were implemented while testing and analysis of seafood in the vicinity was undertaken, to determine the level of impact in the Hunter and Port Stephens waterways.

“DPI is now implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel and all commercial and recreational fishing closures will reopen on Saturday 1 October 2016.

“DPI Fisheries and the NSW Food Authority have conducted sampling of prawns, fish and oysters with results provided to the Expert Panel. These results have concluded the continued presence of PFAS in some seafood, but at levels that provide minimal risk to most consumers.

“A restriction however will be placed on dusky flathead caught in the Hunter River for commercial fishers from October 1, which will prohibit take of the species and stop it entering the supply chain.

“The public can be confident that seafood for sale is safe to eat,” Dr Allan said.

“Ongoing restrictions for flathead are in response to elevated and highly variable levels of PFAS detected in sampling of this species which now requires some further assessment to be undertaken.

“Commercial and recreational fishers, as well as residents have been patient during these closures enabling us to undertake the necessary investigations to ensure their safety and wellbeing for the future,” Dr Allan said.

Advice on the consumption of locally sourced seafood will be provided to the community, who may be exposed to PFAS from a number of sources.  This includes advice on certain species of seafood which addresses consumption amounts and frequency.

More information and dietry advice

Media contact: Simone Catorall 0439 313 843