Blue green algae bloom

Lake Guyatt in Sale.

Zoe Askew

In consultation with The Department of Health, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning urges people and pets to avoid water at all Gippsland Lakes from Hollands Landing to Lakes Entrance and parts of Ninety Mile Beach as a bloom of toxic blue-green algae causes mass contamination.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning blue-green algae bloom map.

If contact with the skin occurs, blue-green algae can cause allergic reactions such as rashes, itchiness, sore eyes, ears, and nose. If swallowed, blue-green algae contaminated water causes gastroenteritis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fevers and headaches.

Following environmental investigations, The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have confirmed the presence of nodularin toxins in prawns from Gippsland Lakes and parts of Ninety Mile Beach, caused by the blue-green algae.

Prawns caught in the Gippsland Lakes and up to five nautical miles off the Gippsland coast between McLoughlins Beach and the New South Wales border are unsuitable for human consumption.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Department of Health advises not to eat shellfish such as mussels, crabs or prawns from anywhere in the Gippsland Lakes. If fishing in these areas, it is suggested to ensure the complete removal of the guts and gills and thoroughly wash fish immediately after catching.

Health authorities are imploring people not to consume shellfish from the Gippsland Lakes area as nodularin toxin, a byproduct of the blue-green algae which has contaminated shellfish across the region, can lead to serious illness if ingested.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning blue green algae bloom map.

PrimeSafe, the Victorian red meat and seafood safety regulator, have directed seafood businesses from up to five nautical miles along the coast between Corner Inlet and the NSW Border to cease harvesting until further notice.

PrimeSafe chief executive officer Michael Coffey says they will be working closely with the industry to ensure impacted seafood businesses can harvest again as soon as possible, bringing safe, Victorian produce to market.

Incident Controller Peter West says the bloom of blue-green algae, which has been contaminating the Gippsland Lakes for most of the year, has taken a toll on tourism, the local economy, and now, the current worsening is impacting our local prawns.

“This species of algae cannot survive in the ocean. As challenging as it is, we are hoping for a slow and steady dispersal of the bloom in the Gippsland Lakes to minimise the risk to fish and marine life,” Mr West said.

To guarantee your health and safety, please take note of signage at boat ramps, jetties and fishing spots. For the latest and most up to date information and advice, visit the VicEmergency app or the DELWP Facebook page.