Lakes fish warning

FISH caught in the Gippsland Lakes need to have their gills and guts removed before cooking.

Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Dr Michael Ackland said recent fish samples had shown levels of toxins which were above health guidelines.

People should also not eat prawns, crabs and mussels taken from the Lakes because of the level of toxins that can accumulate in these seafood species.

Dr Ackland said while there were only very low levels of toxic algae species currently present in the Lakes, recent testing has found that toxins produced by the Nodularia species have been taken up by fish and seafood.

“When the toxin is taken up by fish and seafood and eaten by people at levels above health guidelines, it can affect liver and kidney function and may increase the risk of cancer,” Dr Ackland said.

“The toxin is concentrated in the gills and guts of the fish.

“Fish should not be cooked whole as this could redistribute toxins from the internal organs to the fish flesh, making it unsafe for consumption.

“As a precaution, any fish harvested in the Gippsland Lakes by recreational or commercial fishing must be gilled and gutted before being consumed.”

Dr Ackland said swimming and other recreational activities in the Gippsland Lakes were not affected.

Signs are being erected at key recreational access sites around the Lakes to advise people of the health warning.