Seafood safety

Heavy metal contamination in the Derwent estuary has potential health implications for people catching and consuming local shellfish and fish.

Heavy metal levels in Derwent estuary oysters, mussels and flathead have been monitored for over a decade by Nystar Hobart smelter (previously Zinifex and Pasminco).

Oysters and mussels collected in the Derwent estuary, including Ralphs Bay, are not suitable for human consumption due to elevated heavy metal levels and the potential occurrence of faecal pathogens.

Mercury levels in flathead are at or near the recommended human health guidelines suggesting that up to two meals per week would be acceptable for most people. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, women planning to become pregnant and young children, however, should limit their Derwent flathead consumption to no more than 1 meal per week. For details click here for Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

The Derwent Estuary Program is working with its partners to raise public awareness about the potential health implications of eating seafood from the Derwent estuary. In July 2011 a brochure, based on the latest research, was released with more detailed information about heavy metal levels in oysters, mussels and a range of fish.

Heavy metal levels will continue to be monitored and management priorities are being establishment aimed at reducing contamination.

Fairy or Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor)

Restoring and promoting the Derwent estuary