The consumption of oysters from the Shoalhaven River is safe according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
Earlier this week the EPA issued a precautionary dietary advice for five fish species caught in the Shoalhaven River, luderick (blackfish), sea mullet, sand whiting, dusky flathead and silverbiddy, after testing found elevated PFAS levels.
Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
As they have heat, water and stain repelling properties, PFAS have been widely used in a range of industrial and consumer products both in Australia and internationally, including in fire retardants, water proofing, food preparation, food packaging, furnishings, clothing and recreational equipment.
An EPA spokesperson has told the South Coast Register previous scientific studies have found oysters are not a PFAS exposure pathway risk.
“Oysters are safe to consume so are not included in the current dietary advice for the Shoalhaven River,” the spokesperson said.
“There are no alerts for the oyster industry in the Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers.”
Great news for the local oyster industry as it heads into one of its busiest periods over Christmas.
Commercially harvested oysters in NSW are produced under a rigorous food safety program and further information on the program can be found at: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/industry/shellfish
Meanwhile, recreational fisher and South Coast Register columnist Steve Johnson has called for further testing on other river fish species.
“Of the five species mentioned by the EPA, recreational fishers really only target three in the river,” Mr Johnson said.
“Shoalhaven River recreational fishers mainly target blackfish, dusky flathead and sand whiting.”
He said he would like to see the testing go further to include bream, estuary perch and bass.
“At this stage this advice from the EPA is just that - advice,” he said.
“They are not saying it is not safe to fish or eat fish from the Shoalhaven River. It is just a precautionary dietary advice.”
The EPA investigations into the raised levels of PFAS are continuing, with Mr Johnson saying all fishers and residents are responsible for looking after the river.
“We are all responsible to look after our river - industry or recreational fishers all have to make sure they're not putting rubbish into the river,” he said.
“Everyone has to take the appropriate actions if there are fuel spills and industry needs to carefully monitor what they do to ensure they are not putting pollution into the river.”
The EPA has reiterated its dietary advice for five Shoalhaven River fish species.
The authority said the fishery remains open and commercial fishers can continue to sell fish they catch in the Shoalhaven River and recreational fishers who regularly catch and eat their own fish from the Shoalhaven River can continue to do so safely, but should follow the dietary advice.
The EPA has released tables which lists the number of serves of a single species that can be eaten each week to limit exposure to half of the health-based guideline value.
Recommended maximum weekly intake for species caught in areas upstream of the Nowra Bridge. For children aged two to six years it is suggested they can have five serves of sand whiting, three serves of luderick or sea mullet, two serves of dusky flathead and a single serve of silver biddy per week.
For other age groups it is recommended six serves of luderick, five of sea mullet, four of dusky flathead, three of silver biddy per week, while there is no recommended intake of sand whiting.
The recommended maximum weekly intake for species caught in areas downstream of the Nowra Bridge. For children aged two to six it is recommended six serves of sea mullet, five of silver biddy and three of dusky flathead.
For other age groups there is no dietary advice is required based on the reported PFOS and PFHxS concentrations. Concentrations were below the adopted trigger values in the samples analysed.
Adult serving size is 150 grams and children serving size is 75 grams.
The EPA says species specific information is for when a single species of fish is eaten per week. Eating multiple species would result in a greater exposure.
The EPA said consumption of offal in all species should be avoided.