Fishing in Port Pirie waters has been banned for 12-months amid concerns of contamination.
The closure, which came into affect on Monday night, is in response to new information from a recent University of South Australia report produced in partnership with Flinders Ports Holdings, Nyrstar and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
Analysis of shallow sediments at Port Pirie was undertaken by researchers and the potential for metal recovery from the contaminated sediments was explored.
The report estimated the Port Pirie River and First Creek areas contain between $21.5 million and $40 million of recoverable lead, zinc, and silver.
Two zones covering waters at Port Pirie, Port Germein and Weeroona Island will be closed. The zones reflect the different levels of contamination revealed from this latest research. Shore, jetty and boat-based fishing activity is restricted in the closure areas as follows:
- Zone 1 - all waters south-west of Weeroona Island Boat Ramp and including First Creek, Second Creek and Port Pirie River - no seafood, including all molluscs, crustaceans and fish, can be taken from this area.
- Zone 2 - all waters in the Port Germein area, extending north and west of Weeroona Island Boat Ramp - no bivalve molluscs e.g. oysters, mussels, scallops and razorfish can be taken from this area.
SA Health has advised that until further investigations are completed into the human health risks from the contaminated sediment, any seafood caught within the Port Pirie closure area should not be consumed.
This risk can be easily avoided by choosing commercially-caught seafood or seafood taken outside of the Port Pirie closure zones.
Primary Industries Fisheries and Aquaculture acting executive director Gavin Begg said following advice from SA Health and the EPA, the temporary closure was a precautionary step in light of this latest research on sediment contamination.
"Putting this fishing closure in place will allow enough time for further investigation into risks in the area to be conducted and whether these closures may need to extend into future years," he said.
"This closure has been established as a precautionary measure to ensure people remain safe by not eating seafood caught in these two zones.
"People wanting to fish around Port Pirie will need to be aware of this closure and where seafood can still be safely caught and consumed."
Professor Begg said the closure has no impact on commercial seafood caught in the broader area, which is taken outside of these zones.
"All seafood sold commercially is caught outside the closure area and is regularly tested including through the National Residue Survey and the SafeFish program, with testing to date from South Australian waters demonstrating continued high quality product in the market place," he said.
"So you can continue to purchase high quality South Australian seafood in the knowledge it is both delicious and safe to eat."
More information on the temporary fishing closure at Port Pirie is available at pir.sa.gov.au/fishing or via the SA Fishing Guide app.
Parents of children living in Port Pirie are encouraged to engage with the Port Pirie Environmental Health Centre for more information about how to reduce exposure to lead (8638 4100).
Any suspicious or illegal fishing activity can be reported to the 24 hour Fishwatch number on 1800 065 522. Callers can choose to remain anonymous.