Shrimp fishing in Sydney Harbour has been banned after elevated levels of dioxin were detected in the shellfish, the New South Wales state government announced Saturday. Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said the temporary ban was a precaution imposed after consultations with food authorities.
Exposure to dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, infertility and suppressed immune functions. Macdonald did not say how high the dioxin levels were in the shrimp. More tests will be conducted and a range of other fish will be included as an added precaution, Macdonald said.
Shrimp are a delicacy enjoyed by Australians, particularly at Christmas. Twenty commercial fishers catch about 5.5 tons of shrimp each year from Sydney Harbour, accounting for less than 1 percent of the supply to local seafood markets. There was no immediate indication of the source of the dioxin, AP reports.