Eating your catch safely
One of the joys of fishing is being able to bring home some fish for your meal. If you intend to eat your catch, there are some important tips to follow to help you remain healthy when enjoying your bounty.
Safe handling of your catch
Important tips for catching or collecting aquatic species include:
- Keep fresh catch cold and covered by putting it in ice or a refrigerator straight away.
- Keep equipment and surfaces clean.
- Don’t let recreational catch or bait drip onto other food.
- Only catch or collect when water quality is good. Remember that water quality can change and not all harmful things can be seen with the naked eye.
- Obey all public health signage.
Eating fish caught in urban areas
Fish are an important part of a healthy diet. They are high in protein and other essential nutrients, low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids. In general, the benefits of eating fish greatly outweigh any risks.
However, people who fish in the Lower Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers need to be careful about eating their catch. The risks of eating your catch can be reduced if you make sensible choices about the type and amount of fish you eat.
Be particularly careful when eating shellfish caught recreationally, including pipis, oysters, mussels and scallops. Shellfish are filter feeders that consume algae and other microscopic organisms in the water. If the water is polluted, shellfish can accumulate the harmful substances in their flesh and organs, increasing the risk of being exposed to toxins causing disease such as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Eating catch contaminated with such toxins can result in serious illness or death. To minimise your risks, avoid consuming shellfish from all waters where the water quality may be poor.
For example, it is always unsafe to eat wild shellfish collected near:
- marinas or other places where boats discharge waste
- sewage, industrial or stormwater outfalls
- areas with septic tanks
- places affected by recent heavy rain
- areas affected by toxic algal blooms.
Commercially sold shellfish in Victoria is subject to strict food safety quality assurance programs and are safe to eat. To minimise risks to recreational fishers, the VFA is undertaking routine pipi and water quality testing around Venus Bay – an area identified as a key recreational shellfish area. It is recommended that fishers observe all signage in the area. Remember that cooking will not destroy or remove toxins that might be present in shellfish.