Research conducted by an independent veterinary scientist has quashed the Gladstone Ports Corporationâ€™s argument that flooding and freshwater influx from the 2011 floods has been the cause of diseased marine life in Gladstone Harbour.
Supported by the Gladstone Fishing Research Fund, the Report highlights dredging by the Gladstone Ports Corporation and a failure to implement best practice environmental risk mitigation methods as the likely cause of sediment-borne toxicity affecting the marine life.
Shine Lawyers lodged legal proceedings in January arguing Gladstone Ports Corporation had failed to comply with conditions set by the State Government and must now take steps to negotiate a compensation package for the Gladstone fishing industry, the hearing will be held on 30 April.
Shine Lawyers Partner Rebecca Jancauskas said the new science would bolster the claims of more than 60 Gladstone fishermen and called for immediate action by the Ports Corporation and State Government.
â€śNot only does the Report prove freshwater was not the cause of ongoing sickness in the fish, it also addresses the erroneous position that barramundi entering the Harbour from Awoonga dam have caused the rashes and lesions on marine life,â€ť Ms Jancauskas said.
The report by Dr Matt Landos of Future Fisheries Veterinary Service includes marine life pathology reports conducted on specimens in January and February 2012 by sampling over 500 crabs and dozens of fish in five locations around Gladstone Harbour.
â€śThe closer the dredging gets to the fish and crab populations, the greater the concentration of resuspended sediment and other sediment borne legacy toxins â€“ this then coincides with higher prevalence of lesions amongst the marine life,â€ť Dr Landos said.
â€śOur research also noted that the prevalence of shell lesions in mud crabs is markedly increased above historical levels.â€ť
Ms Jancauskas said the fishing industry was buoyed by Premier Newmanâ€™s commitment to tackle the issue in his first 100 days in office.
â€śThe fishing industry needs certainty and support from their new Government, especially since they have pledged to not only boost jobs, but food creation,â€ť Ms Jancauskas said.
â€śOur door is open to the Premier, the Ministers for Agriculture and Environment and their Departments to discuss this new evidence and explore how we can expedite a solution for the fishermen.â€ť
Dredging Today Staff, April 19, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment