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Mercury scares in Menorca

03 Jan 2014
Scorpion fish were found to be contaminated. Photo: OCEANA/ Juan Cuetos

Scorpion fish were found to be contaminated. Photo: OCEANA/ Juan Cuetos

Oceana has found mercury contamination in samples of monkfish and scorpion fish in the Balearic Island of Menorca, in the Maó area.

An analysis by the University of Barcelona found that eight of the 10 samples of monkfish acquired had higher levels than those permitted by European regulations (1mg/kg of fresh weight), while seven out of the 10 samples of scorpion exceeded the maximum levels of 0.5mg/kg.

“We chose species with a small range of mobility to ensure that the contamination of these fish came from the island and not elsewhere”, said Xavier Pastor, executive director, Oceana in Europe.

“We can therefore say that in Menorca there are currently problems with mercury contamination and if the dredged material which is contaminated with this substance is dumped into the sea, as they intend to do in the Port of Maó, the situation will get worse. This is an irresponsible act that is hazardous for the health of people and the island’s fishing activity,” he added.

Ten samples of red mullet were also analysed. Red mullet is lower in the food chain than swordfish and scorpion fish so it is less exposed to accumulations of heavy metals. None of the sample of this species exceeded the EU-permitted levels.

The issue of mercury contamination has already been detected in other species fished by the Spanish fleet.

As a result, the Spanish Ministry of Health recommended that children under the age of three and pregnant women should not eat certain species at the top of the food chain, such as bluefin tuna and swordfish.

Oceana has requested that the Balearic Port Authority (APB) looks for alternatives to dumping these harmful materials into the sea and has suggested that the materials are decontaminated and deposited on land.

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Scorpion fish were found to be contaminated. Photo: OCEANA/ Juan Cuetos

Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright © Mercator Media 2014. This does not exclude the owner's assertion of copyright over the material.


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