[Coral-List] ciguatera, teh epidemic, 1 in 4 islanders poisoned, eco catastrophe to coral reefs by HAB toxins
mark_skinner59 at yahoo.com.au
Tue Apr 9 01:08:02 EDT 2013
Please distribute to your organisation and colleagues:
The Ciguatera fish poisoning epidemic in Oceania, the coral reef eco catastrophe &
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) travel via shipping ballast to mining ports.
It should be of great concern that as the Australian mining industry expands; new ports (i.e. Abbott point on the GBR, James Price Point in the Kimberly’s) are built in vulnerable ecosystems. A large number of ships travelling from Asia, will change their boat ballast and cause toxic harmful(eg Pyrodinium, a microalgae produces paralytic shellfish toxin, has killed over 150 people in the Philippines and responsible for marine fauna kills in the Solomon Is.) algae to spread, impacting habitats that have may have no natural predators to these toxic bio-invasives.
The most well-known of HABs are red tides, as one example was witnessed recently (Noctulica, impacting biodiversity with high concentrations of ammonia) on Sydney’s beaches and Alexandrium (producing the shellfish poisoning toxin saitotoxin) that has closed the shellfish beds on the east coast of Tasmania and Botany Bay. Then there are also HABs related to seafood poisonings of humans, including the many types of shellfish poisoning, (DSP, ASP, PSP etc) and ciguatera fish poisoning. The impact of toxic HABs on marine tropical ecosystem health remains understudied. There have been marine fauna (including fish, turtles, seabirds, seals, cetaceans) kills from the temperate coasts of North America to lagoons of the tropical Solomon Islands, which have been directly and indirectly attributed to HABs.
A danger overlooked by the coral reef scientists are those ciguatera (please see my paper in PLOS NTD: http://www.plosntds.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10..1371%2Fjournal.pntd.0001416 ) fish poisoning toxic microalgae (Gambierdiscus produces Ciguatoxin, the most potent biotoxin known to man) th that has produced an epidemic in the Pacific Island nations, some of which are already upon the GBR (Ostreopsis produces a palytoxin, responsible for killing sea turtles?). Seventeen nations of the Pacific have been impacted with ciguatera fish poisoning, due to coral reef degradation and consequential benthic HABs, including toxic cyanobacteria, to the extent that one in four islanders have been poisoned in recent times (approx. 500,000 in 30 years) and also capable of travelling in the ballast water from their points of origin. The sublethal impacts upon humans, of benthic HAB toxins, including Oxadaic Acid (from Prorocentrum, see “Fire in the Turtle House”), a
tumor promoter, has barely been studied.
For the many reasons that such mining ports should not be built; even the dredging of estuaries can provide, through suspension of bacteria, minerals and nutrients, more habitats capable of supporting HABs. The impact of exotic HABs arriving in boat ballast and their ability to move further afield, spreading via currents, eddies and storms alongside coastlines should be seen as an unforseen danger, which could lead to the ruination of our natural marine heritage, not accustomed to such HABs.
Of a major concern in this scenario, the Boat Ballast Convention of 2004 as created by the International Maritime Organisation has not been ratified, so what safe guards are in place to prevent toxic HABs travelling from Asian seas in the boat ballast of mining cargo vessels? For the many reasons that such mining developments, requiring new ports, should not go ahead (from impacting whale calving grounds, the drop in price of resources, the stripping of this countries resources, with no reserves!), the use of proven safe guards to stop HABs surviving in mining boat ballast and the ratification of the 2004 Boat Ballast Convention, also needs to be addressed. An eco catastrophe of the tropical coral reef environment, due to HABs is occurring, with ciguatera as a bio-indicator!
Mark Skinner (UQ)
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