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New reports claim study on harbour fish health is flawed

Dr Matt Landos.
Dr Matt Landos. Christopher Chan

A RESEARCHER has hit back at critics of Gladstone Port development, with two reviews claiming an independent report on fish health in the harbour is flawed, oversimplified and too general.

Gladstone Ports Corporation commissioned both reports which reviewed research by veterinary scientist Dr Matt Landos.

Last year Dr Landos was commissioned by Gladstone Fish Research Fund to carry out independent research on the health of marine life in the harbour.

His findings slammed the government's methods of monitoring fish health during the Western Basin Dredging Project.

But new reports by Dr Graeme Batley from the CSIRO and Dr Barbara Nowak of the University of Tasmania claim the Landos research was not adequate to support his claims.

The first review, completed by Dr Nowak, focused on pathology.

Her report states that although some of his conclusions were valid, Dr Landos had misinterpreted some of the scientific papers he cited to support his argument.

The second review by Dr Batley is based on water quality and claims Dr Landos falsely applied data to come to his conclusions.

"He over-emphasised the contribution of dissolved metals, whose concentrations in the waters and sediments of Gladstone Harbour indicate only marginal 'exceedances' of the Australian and New Zealand water quality guideline values," Dr Batley said.

"He also failed to consider the effect of freshwater inputs as a cause of fish disease, despite greater than usual rainfall at the time of disease outbreaks."

But Dr Landos hit back, saying his work had been taken out of context.

"Neither one of them were given the information they needed to accurately review my work," he said.

"My science is the only work done in Gladstone which is independent of government and independent of Gladstone Ports Corporation."

Both reviews have been included as part of the Gladstone Port Corporation's submission to the Federal Government's independent review of the harbour.

The Observer asked the Gladstone Ports Corporation to comment on the commissioned reports, and reveal how much they had cost.

The ports corporation would not answer the questions, but CEO Leo Zussino has previously said environmental monitoring and research would cost the GPC $22.5 million over the next decade. 

Topics:  environment fish health gladstone harbour gladstone ports corporation


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