European Cetacean Bycatch banner loading

"Man is but a strand in the complex web of life"

Internal links buttons



Toxic fish from Baltic make it to our shores

The Age - Australia

2nd January 2003
By Andra Jackson

Contaminated Baltic fish banned from sale to European Union countries are being dumped on the Australian market, it has been claimed.

Swedish herring, with dioxin levels above those permitted by the EU, were being sold to tuna farms in Australia, European environment campaigner Don Staniford said.

"Swedish herring (like all Baltic seafood) is contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals such as PCBs and dioxins, and both Sweden and Finland have been banned from selling their fish into the European market until 2006," he said.

In Melbourne last week, Richter brand herring in sour cream and herring in mustard, marked product of Sweden, were sold over the counter.

Packet herring, smoked by a local company, was also being sold with the list of ingredients giving the origin of the herring only as Europe.

The European Commission estimates that 100 per cent of Finland's industrial fish catch and 90 per cent of Sweden's industrial fish catch exceed the maximum EC dioxin level.

Norwegian seafood products were also contaminated, he said.

Fish with the high levels of dioxins are Baltic herring, Baltic salmon and Baltic sprats.

Under EC regulations that came into force on January 1 last year, the area in which fish are caught must now be specified.

Sweden and Finland have undertaken not to sell their fish to other European countries and, where they are still selling their fish domestically, health authorities must issue warnings to women of child-bearing age against regularly eating Baltic salmon or herring. Other consumers are being warned not to eat oily fish from the Baltic more than once a week.

Mr Staniford gave a paper on the issue to the European Parliament in October and is now researching a book called Cancer of the Coast: The Environment and Public Health Disaster of Sea Cage Fish Farming.

Newspaper reports verify that 6000 tonnes of Swedish herring was shipped to Australia on the Haru Verdy late last year for tuna farmers in Port Lincoln.

Speaking from England, Mr Staniford said that if fish feed was contaminated, the farmed fish product became contaminated and should not be sold as healthy food.

A spokeswoman for Food Standards Australia, which works with quarantine authorities, said: "We are looking to see what, if any, is imported."