NEWS – Estrogen transgens

NEWS - Estrogen transgens

First there were heavy metals, unacceptably high levels of lead and mercury, then the discovery of dangerous doixins, which forced a ban on commercial fishing in Sydney Harbour and warnings about how much fish is safe to eat. Now experts are concerned that traces of the contraceptive pill are leaching into our favourite waterway and feminising male fish.

Professor David Booth from the University of Technology said a cocktail of industrial products and waste chemicals is getting into the blood of male toad fish, and producing a yolk protein which causes them to become female.

Apparently, the problem is more widespread than we realise. Unlike fish kills, or diseased fish sporting lesions, gender-bending fish don’t show signs of being unwell. They’re seemingly content to flitter about the flats as fish do.

But there is now real fear that effects of absorbing too much estrogen could threaten entire species and potentially alter the dynamics of the marine food chain. Which is to say nothing of making sissies out of our otherwise scrappy sporting fish.

Talking with ABC Rural news, Professor Booth said gender-altering chemicals are leaching along the entire NSW coast and disrupting the reproductive pathways of many fish.

"The findings about the endocrine disruptive compounds suggest that it's not simply the lethal effects of things like pollution on fish, which are well publicised, and everyone sees the fish kill and realises it's happened, but it's the sub-lethal effects," Professor Booth says.

But there is no suggestion that consuming too many female fish will in any way alter the gender of seafood lovers. - David Lockwood.