A trout and waterways advocacy organisation has warned trout fishermen to avoid eating trout from rivers which have had surrounding countryside dowsed with the highly hazardous 1080 poison.
President of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and veterinarian Dr. Peter Trolove of Canterbury said while Fish and Game NZ had recommended to avoid eating trout from waterways in a 1080 drop area for seven days, he – from personal experience and examination of current research – emphasised that a week may not be enough time lapse following the use of the poison.
“There is a significant lack of data to reach any definitive conclusions,” he said. “It is potentially dangerous in its reliance on inadequate study.”
He said it appeared the only definitive study on the uptake and elimination of 1080 from rainbow trout was a Cawthron Institute Report No. 2611.
“However, this study was funded by DOC. 1080 in the treated fish was not cleared, by the time the study was abruptly ended after 120 hours. Very significantly the report’s authors recommended further studies,” said Peter Trolove who has experience overseas in the freshwater aquatic veterinarian field.
The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers was recently contacted by anglers concerned about the risk of a proposed 1080 drop near the lower Tongariro River, the main tributary of Lake Taupo.
Peter Trolove said he was issuing a warning because of his own experience where he caught a trout in the West Coast’s lower Paringa River in 2014, that had a “1080 blue” dyed gut and had a fatty liver and accumulated fat in the gut typical of a farmed fish.
“There is a salmon farm in a tributary of the Paringa River upstream and it is probable this trout had been feeding on waste pellets washed down from the fish farm. The dye was only apparent after opening the fish’s gut.”
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) following the Cawthron Report published a risk assessment to advise the Department of Conservation and local authorities on the food safety of eating trout from a 1080 treatment area.
“This MPI risk assessment relied heavily on the inconclusive Cawthron report and played down the risks of trout ingesting 1080 pellets directly. Other elements of risk are the take-up of 1080 by trout, the half-life of 1080 in pellets, and the amount of trout that might be eaten by an adult or child.”
In 2016 the then CEO of Fish and Game NZ Bryce Johnson called on DOC to do more on the 1080 risk as Fish and Game had trialled how attractive 1080 baits were to trout and had found trout will eat them.
The Federation recent wrote to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor about the matter. The minister replied that MPI does not have records indicating trout ingest 1080 pellets directly and encouraged anglers to report any findings in the future so they may be investigated.
The Minister also stated that MPI does not regulate food safety of trout, however it acts in an advisory role to support local authorities and Fish and Game. He added MPI stood by its 7 day precautionary period but suggested the Federation could advise a more precautionary approach if it thought necessary.
“The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers reiterates Fish and Game’s call in 2016 on the Department of Conservation to do more to reduce the threat 1080 poison poses to people gathering food from waterways and concurs with Fish and Game’s view that DOC’s present effort is inadequate and self-serving,” said Peter Trolove.
In the absence of robust science NZFFA recommended “catch and release” be practiced in catchments affected by 1080 aerial poisoning and asked anglers to report any cases where trout may have taken poisoned baits.
Contact: Peter Trolove (03) 324 2779 or 029 779 0295