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Endosulfan Ruled out as a Potential Cause of Noosa Fish Health Issues

25 November 2009

Reports of two-headed fish embryos and several other adverse findings at a Noosa River fish hatchery in January this year sparked concerns at a local, state and national level. Early media reports suggested the possible involvement of agricultural chemicals. In response, the Queensland Government established a Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce (external site) to investigate and report on the incidents.

Media speculation about the incidents nominated specific chemicals that might have been responsible. One of these was the insecticide endosulfan.

The Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce undertook an extensive investigation and published an interim report in June 2009 (external site). Of the six events investigated, the Taskforce accepted that the involvement of agricultural chemicals could be a plausible explanation for a number of the events, but noted that there was no evidence of any such causal involvement.

However, the Taskforce has recently ruled out any involvement of endosulfan. In a statement provided to the APVMA, the Taskforce indicated that:

The Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce has at this point eliminated endosulfan as a potential cause of deaths and deformities at a commercial fish hatchery at Noosa in the six events being investigated. Endosulfan was not used by the neighbouring macadamia property during the period under investigation. There was also some suggestion that because the commercial hatchery uses river water and fish from the river in its operations, pesticides in the Noosa River may have been involved in the incidents reported. However, environmental monitoring of water from the Noosa River and its feeder lakes has not indicated that endosulfan is present at concentrations that would be harmful to aquatic life.

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