The catfish 'Toxic' suitable for fishmeal production
Monday, November 16, 2009, 09:50 (GMT 9)
In 2008, CSIC scientists said that nearly half of the catfish showed signs of alarming levels of mercury, and 15-20 per cent exceeded the maximum legal limits.
The mercury contamination originates from the Flix swamp (Ribera d'Ebre), where CSIC detected some 700,000 tonnes of toxic mud in 2004. Last summer, work was supposed to commence on the removal of the mud, but work is currently at a standstill.
The Department of the Environment of the Government of Catalonia assures that the catfish which inhabit the lower Ebro are apt for the production of fishmeal.
For this reason, although the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) considers this fish to be toxic due to high concentrations of mercury, the Catalan government has authorised its capture to the company Mondo Ivans.
Said company received authorisation to fish catfish between October and December, and later commercialise their captures.
The executives of Mondo Ivans plan to export the fish to Romania.
According to a spokesperson from the Department for the Environment of Catalonia, these fish “are not fit for human consumption, but are for other purposes, such as fishmeal."
Jordi Grimalt, an investigator at CSIC, says that the catfish contains alarming levels of mercury, which is accumulated in its organism. He affirms that “if an animal eats the contaminated catfish fishmeal, it will also accumulate that mercury. When a person eats that animal, the same will also occur.”
CSIC admitted that it can't control what the company uses the catfish for, despite the possible risks.
“The standard controls will detect the toxic fish captured by the company and will withdraw them,” said Grimalt.
In any case, CSIC assured that the fish will not be designated for human consumption.
“We have never allowed that use. The intention of the company has always been to use the fish for the production of feed,” a ministerial spokesman told El País.
However, in accordance with the CSIC representative for the Ebro, Víctor Gimeno, the company can use the fish “to its convenience, to create fishmeal or for human consumption.”
For the time being, the company has nearly three tonnes of fish stored and is awaiting to reach a total of five tonnes to dispatch the first shipment to the Romanian market.
“When we reach five tonnes, we'll send them to Romania. To produce fishmeal and to eat. Over there its a very highly regarded-regarded fish to eat and sending a greater quantity is cheaper for us,” said Valentin Ivanov, brother of the company's owner and the man in charge of the catfish capture.