Indigenous fisherman unaware of PFAS warning

NO GO: Katherine local Paul Deegan said he fishes regularly at at the Low Level Reserve.
NO GO: Katherine local Paul Deegan said he fishes regularly at at the Low Level Reserve.

It appears the warning to steer clear of Katherine fish has not made its way down the river yet.

Katherine residents have been cautioned not to eat fish caught in the Katherine River and other homegrown produce.

Fish found below the Stuart Highway bridge have been found with high levels of PFAS and anglers have been warned to avoid eating the fish as a precaution.

Katherine local Paul Deegan said he fishes regularly at at the Low Level Reserve, trying to nab the Million Dollar Fish.

“We have been eating fish out of this water for the past 15 years,” Mr Deegan said.

“We didn’t know you aren’t meant to eat them anymore.

“This fish is our traditional food, we grew up eating it, and now we can’t.”

FISHY BUSINESS: Phillip Deegan said he fishes in the Katherine River up to twice a day.

FISHY BUSINESS: Phillip Deegan said he fishes in the Katherine River up to twice a day.

Helen Moore said she had no idea defence held an information evening in Katherine last night.

“Us mob knew nothing, they should of come around and told us or given us a letter,” Ms Moore said.

“I’ve been living here a long time now.

“I come down here with the kids and we fish and cook it all up for supper. They should have warned us about this a long time ago.”

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Phillip Deegan said he fishes in the Katherine River up to twice a day.

“Aboriginal people come and fish here everyday, there has been years and years of this,” Mr Deegan said.

“You have given me a big shock telling me this. Big mob come down here every day of the week catching fish.

“Now I don’t know what we will do.”

Defence Department contractors Coffey Consultants have been conducting a year long investigation into Katherine PFAS contamination.

Lead consultant Sarah Richards said the interim report would be released in January.

“We wanted to understand the levels here first before looking elsewhere,” Dr Richards said.

“We are working with other organisations, like universities and Department of Primary Industries, who have already caught fish on the Daly River for unrelated research.”

Dr Richards said there was no correlation between fish size and PFAS concentration in the fish they have tested so far.

Almost 100 fish have been sampled from the High Level bridge and Galloping Jacks.

Once the fish are plucked from the water they are sent to a laboratory in Brisbane where they are frozen and broken down to a near liquid state for testing.

The interim report said initial findings indicated a number of activities could pose a risk to residents