Home' Afloat : AFLOAT March 2014 Contents 44 AFLOAT.com.au March 2014
with David Lockwood
LE POISSON EST POISON
Unfortunately, not all fish are safe to eat and there are naturally
occurring seafood toxins that can kill if you don’t look after your
catch. Although dubbed a one-in-a-billion, the tragic deaths of
Australians Noelene and Yvana Bischoff in Bali back in January
illustrate this very point.
A local autopsy subsequently found scombroid food poisoning
from eating poorly refrigerated fish, coupled with asthma and,
in Noelene’s case, migraine medication, were to blame for their
Although it rarely causes death, scombroid (histamine)
poisoning is one of three serious illnesses that can be contracted
from eating seafood. High-risk species in our waters include
bonito, dolphin fish and, to the north, mackerel. Beware eating
The risks from eating unrefrigerated or poorly refrigerated
fish is one reason anglers need to look after their catch. Poor
fish care allows bacteria in the flesh to produce histamine and
other chemicals that can cause rapid pulse, blurred vision, and
In tropical latitudes, ciguatera is a well-documented poisoning
in high-end predators that eat small reef fish which graze on
the algae containing the poisonous organic compound called
ciguatoxin. The toxins build up to the point that eating the
affected fish creates a severe reaction.
The most common symptoms of ciguatera involve the nervous
system and include numbness and tingling around the lips,
tongue, and mouth. Some sufferers experience a reversal of hot
and cold skin sensations.
Most local reported outbreaks of ciguatera involve Spanish
mackerel, particularly in Hervey Bay, but numerous other species
including red bass, the Chinaman and large coral trout are to
An outbreak of ciguatera in outer Melbourne in September
1997 was traced to a 16.2kg Maori wrasse imported from Trunk
Reef in Queensland. Some 46 people were struck down after
dining in a Chinese restaurant.
Another very real toxic risk is paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Thankfully, authorities practise regular water-quality monitoring
and run tight checks on oyster farmers.
The bottom line is to respect your catch, keep it cool and
preferably in an ice slurry, and to know the fish you can and can’t
eat raw or at all. In places like Bali, it appears eating seafood
can be a lucky draw.
CAST A LINE AND SAVE
What is the price of fish in China? Evidently, at an all-time high.
For that very fact has been cited for the global price of seafood
hitting record prices. Along with avoiding seafood poisoning,
it’s all the more reason to catch you own.
According to the Global Fish Price Index (GFPI), the price of
high-end fish around the world has spiked to an all-time high due
to demand in China outpacing supply. Tuna, oysters and prawns
are being snapped up by the Chinese like there’s not tomorrow.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the
United Nations also attribute growing urbanisation and more
supermarkets as the driver of rising seafood sales in emerging
The FAO says that on average nearly 17 per cent of animal
protein consumed worldwide comes from fisheries and
aquaculture. In many small island states the figure is much
higher. At the same time, the livelihoods of 12 per cent of the
world’s population depend on fisheries and aquaculture, mainly
in the developing world.
Yet 30 per cent of world fish stocks are estimated to be
overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion, with
economic losses in marine fisheries resulting from poor
management, inefficiencies, and overfishing adding up to $50
billion per year, FAO studies show.
Clearly the answer is to catch and cook your own. Fishing
tackle has never been more affordable, our fisheries are in great
shape, and landing a fish for the frying pan is truly cost effective.
A SPORTING CHANCE
Life’s a drag without new challenges. You need to test your
wit, learn new skills and hone them to sustain your passion. So
it is with angling. Why not give your favourite pastime a shot in
the arm by giving the fish a sporting chance?
When you scale back your tackle, or wave a fly-fishing
wand, you don’t need a big fish to get the adrenalin running.
Furthermore, today’s finesse fishing gear is a joy to wield. Like
golf gear, fishing rods have gone carbon fibre, light weight but
powerful, with more grunt down low. You can cast all day long
without getting ‘angler’s elbow’.
Having held two World Records (albeit briefly) on the lightest
legitimate tackle class, that is 1kg line, for a mackerel tuna and
a bonito of just a few kilos, I speak first hand of the joys of
Fishing light, there’s less margin for error, your knots need to
be perfectly tied, the drag on your reel must be silky smooth, and
you require a commensurately refined fighting style. It’s a test!
Whether small kingfish on the harbour, bonito or tailor, a
whiting or flathead, a trout in a tarn, light tackle gives the fish a
fighting chance and tests your skill. Give it a go and put the fun
back into fishing.
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