Industry demands Corexit answers, but fishers not worried

GLADSTONE'S fishing industry wants to know how the use of chemical dispersant Corexit has affected the long-term health of the Douglas Shoals - but fishermen admit they did not notice an impact.

AMSA authorised use of 2000 litres of Corexit in the area following the Shen Neng oil spill in April, 2010.

The collection of reefs is popular with recreational fishermen and spearfishermen, although commercial fishing tends to take place further out to sea.

With Red Emperor and Coral Trout on offer, the lure of a big haul at the Shoals seemed stronger than the risk of potential illness.

Corexit had been blamed for a string of illnesses after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, but local fishermen were not hugely concerned.

Mark Green, a competitor in the Boyne-Tannum Hookup since 1999, said he had not seen any side-effects at the shoals after the spill.

"I've never seen a defect on a fish out there after it happened," Mr Green said.

"Last time we went out we bagged out 40 fish and they were all nice trouts and reds (emperors).

"I haven't dived out there since so I couldn't tell you what it's like under the water, but we haven't seen any ulcerated fish or anything since the spill."

Local fish market operator Ted Whittingham demanded answers about how much chemical dispersant had been used in clean ups.

"It's very concerning when you think of the damage this could have on the remaining fishing industry," he said.

"We've already had a $40 million per year local industry reduced to $5 or $10 million per year industry by development."

He called on the authorities to reveal the details.

"They keep spraying this crap all over the water but how much of it, and to what extent, we don't know."

Safety authority says it hasn't used Corexit since 2011

AS the Corexit debate reignites, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has confirmed that contrary to national television reports, it has not used chemical dispersant Corexit since 2011.

AMSA spokeswoman Jo Meehan said the only dispersant accepted by AMSA for use in the event of an oil spill was Slickgone NS, as it had passed stringent testing requirements.

While AMSA could not confirm whether Corexit was carried on international ships, or which countries had banned Corexit, they said in the event of a spill, AMSA would co-ordinate with local authorities.

"If a spill were to happen on the reef, we'd work with Maritime Safety Queensland, but it's AMSA's call how it's dealt with, and Corexit is not used," Ms Meehan said.

What is Corexit?

  • A spill dispersant designed to remain on the water's surface
  • Begins to break down after 16 days in aquatic environments
  • Corexit 9500A and 9527 are not on AMSA's accepted list