Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is assisting the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) who is leading the NSW Government’s response to PFAS contamination.
Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
DPI provides technical support on fisheries, agriculture, biosecurity and food safety issues to EPA as part of the Government’s response. The department also provides support, assistance and advice to impacted communities.
PFAS investigations have included sampling of fish and other aquatic biota in estuaries and inland waterways in NSW. At a small number of sites, the NSW Government has determined that precautionary dietary advice is required for local fishers to moderate their consumption of specific species. For those waterways, advice is outlined below. There are no fishing closures in place in NSW waters due to PFAS contamination.
More information on the EPA's statewide PFAS investigation program is available on the EPA's website.
More information on PFAS and animal health is available in Primefact 1611.
The NSW Government has released precautionary dietary advice for six fish species caught in the Currambene Creek. This advice has been released following fish sampling conducted by the Commonwealth Department of Defence (Defence) as part of their investigation into PFAS from HMAS Albatross, which found levels of PFAS in these six species.
The advice will guide recreational fishers who frequently consume Eastern Sea Garfish, Estuary Perch, Luderick, Mulloway, Sea Mullet and Silver Trevally from Currambene Creek to safely manage their personal intake of these fish.
|Currambene fishing and dietary advice (PDF, 83.25 KB)|
Botany Bay and Georges River
The NSW Government has released precautionary dietary advice for eight finfish species caught in Botany Bay and the Georges River, after testing found per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in these species. The advice will help recreational fishers who regularly catch and eat Dusky Flathead, Sea Mullet, Mulloway, Luderick, Silver Trevally, Arripis Trutta (Australian Salmon), Estuary Perch and Tailor from Botany Bay and the lower Georges River to safely manage their personal intake of these fish. The waters are not closed to fishing and fishers can still take fish within bag and size rules noting the dietary advice, or choose to practice catch and release.
Please note that existing advisories and restrictions are in place for other areas of Georges River and Botany Bay, and are available online.
The NSW PFAS Taskforce has analysed the results from a study into fish in the Hawkesbury River and has determined that the community does not need to take additional precautions to reduce their exposure to PFAS, providing existing general advice is followed.
As part of its PFAS investigations at RAAF Base Richmond, the Department of Defence has been sampling Sea Mullet, Estuary Perch and Australian Bass to determine if precautionary dietary advice should be issued to the community.
The EPA is reminding community members to note general advice from Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) that people can safely consume 2-3 serves of seafood a week, from a variety of sources and species.
More information on FSANZ advice on fish consumption (PDF, 37.1 KB).
Anglers are advised to catch and release Australian Bass caught in Lake Toolooma, within Heathcote National Park near Waterfall. The NSW EPA and NSW PFAS Taskforce have recommended fishers do not consume Australian Bass caught from the lake as a precaution, due to the presence of PFOS in this species.
Saltwater Creek, South West Rocks
PFAS has been detected in giant mud crabs caught in Saltwater Creek and Lagoon. Residents can continue crabbing in Saltwater Creek and Lagoon, but regular consumers should follow this precautionary dietary advice when eating their catch:
The NSW Government has released precautionary dietary advice for five fish species caught in the Shoalhaven River, after testing found elevated per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels in these species. The advice will help high consumers of Luderick, Sea Mullet, Sand Whiting, Dusky Flathead and Silverbiddy from the identified area, to limit their personal intake of these fish.
This precautionary advice was amended in August 2018 to include advice for children under 6 years old who consume more than 5 serves of Mulloway per week. Recent sampling of Australian Bass and Estuary Perch by Department of Defence has found no advice is necessary for these species.
The EPA is investigating the source of this PFAS contamination and will continue to update the local commercial and recreational fishing communities. Commercial fishers can continue to sell fish they catch in the Shoalhaven River and this fishery remains open. Recreational fishers who regularly catch and eat their own fish in the Shoalhaven River can continue to do so safely but should follow the dietary advice.
The NSW Government has updated the precautionary advice for the consumption of Giant Mud Crab and Blue Swimmer Crab caught in Lake Macquarie. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) conducted additional testing in late 2020. Existing precautionary dietary advice has been updated to minimise cadmium exposure of fishers and their families, who may be regular consumers of Blue Swimmer Crab and Giant Mud Crab, the most common crab species that are caught in Lake Macquarie.
This follows an earlier DPI and EPA sampling program for legacy PFAS and heavy metals in popular recreational fish and crustacean species from Lake Macquarie in 2017. The 2017 program found that PFAS exposure through consumption of popular fish and crustacean species does not pose a risk to fishers or their families. However, as cadmium was detected at levels above relevant screening criteria in crabs in Lake Macquarie, precautionary dietary advice was implemented. This earlier advice has now been updated.
Lake Macquarie fishing and dietary advice can be found at Lake Macquarie (nsw.gov.au)
As part of the NSW government's response to PFAS contamination at various sites across the state, sampling of fish for PFAS has been completed in the Peel River, downstream from the Jewry Road Bridge at Tamworth.
Following the detection of low levels of PFAS in some species, the NSW Government is recommending that people who personally source and eat fish from this area, such as fishers and local residents, should limit the number of servings of individual species. Advice applies to fish caught from the whole of the waters of the Peel River and its tributaries downstream of Jewry St weir to the road crossing at Appleby Lane, including Wallamore Anabranch and Bolton’s Creek catchment.
Williamtown and Hunter River Estuary
People who personally source and eat fish and seafood from the Hunter River Estuary, Fullerton Cove and Tilligerry Creek, such as fishers and local residents, should limit the number of servings of individual species.
This advice follows recommendations to the NSW Government from the Williamtown Contamination Expert Panel (now NSW PFAS Expert Panel) in April 2017.
There are no restrictions in place and all Hunter waterways remain open for commercial and recreational fishing, including the Hunter River Estuary, Tilligerry Creek and Fullerton Cove.
NSW DPI has released a new flyer for the Hunter River Estuary to remind fishers that dietary advice applies to this waterway. There is no change to the advice provided in April 2017.
Specific dietary advice is available on the EPA website.