29 May 2020

All-clear for fishing and crabbing in the Swan and Canning Rivers

The Department of Health has lifted warnings dating back to December 2019 and January 2020 respectively, not to eat fish or crabs collected from the Swan and Canning rivers.

The Department is now advising that the Swan and Canning rivers are all-clear for fishing and crabbing. However, the Department’s standing warning to avoid eating shellfish collected recreationally in rivers, estuaries or other waterways remains in place as the quality of these shellfish for consumption cannot be guaranteed.

Shellfish includes oysters, mussels, clams, pipis, scallops, cockles and razor clams.

Acting Environmental Health Executive Director Dr Michael Lindsay said ongoing water quality monitoring undertaken by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), within the Swan and Canning rivers over the last month, has not detected the toxic Alexandrium alga. This alga had previously been detected at very high levels, particularly from January to mid-March 2020, and triggered health concerns over the toxicity of seafood in affected areas of both rivers.

Testing for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins in black bream and other fish species, blue swimmer crabs and mussels during the peak of the bloom, identified PSP toxins in both mussels and crab viscera above the comparable food safety guideline maximum level. Toxins in both mussels and crabs have since declined below this level.

Dr Lindsay said farmed shellfish purchased in supermarkets and other commercial outlets in WA were not affected as there is a strict quality-assurance program to ensure these shellfish are safe for human consumption.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions (DBCA) will continue to monitor algae levels within the Swan and Canning rivers. For monitoring information visit the DBCA website. For health-related water quality information please contact the Department of Health on 9222 2000.


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