CAUGHT: A 7kg Spanish mackerel with a lure in its mouth. Photo: The Sunday Mail
CAUGHT: A 7kg Spanish mackerel with a lure in its mouth. Photo: The Sunday Mail

Fishers poisoned after eating mackerel caught off Evans Head

A GROUP of keen fishers have come down with a debilitating disease after catching and eating a huge Spanish mackerel they caught off the Evans Head coast.

The 15-16kg fish was hooked on the South Evans Reef last week.

All those who feasted on it came down with ciguatera.

This is a debilitating disease that ultimately leaves its victim with serious after-effects for years, including not being able to ingest seafood or alcohol.

The most recent officially recorded outbreak was in 2014 and resulted in Fisheries putting a 10kg maximum weight on Spaniards destined for the Sydney Fish Market.

Ciguatera is an undetectable toxin that accumulates in larger predators, so when the mackies do come on, it might be worth releasing these fish once they get over about 1.2m long.

 

What is ciguatera?

According to the NSW Food Authority, ciguatera poisoning is a form of food poisoning.

"It is caused by eating warm water finfish that carry ciguatera poison (toxin)," the authority explains on its website.

"Small plant-eating fish eat toxic algae and in turn are eaten by larger, predatory fish, like Spanish Mackerel."

 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually start one to 24 hours after eating a toxic fish.

The time before onset of illness and the range of symptoms can depend on how much fish is eaten, which parts of the fish are eaten, how much toxin is in the fish and the individual susceptibility of the consumer.

Symptoms include:

  • Sensation of hot-cold temperature reversal. This can include a burning sensation or skin pain on contact with cold water or a stinging sensation when drinking water
  • Tingling and numbness in fingers, toes, around lips ,tongue, mouth and throat
  • Burning sensation or skin pain on contact with cold water
  • Joint and muscle pains with muscular weakness
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and/or abdominal cramps
  • Headache, fatigue and fainting
  • Extreme itchiness, often worsened by drinking alcohol
  • Difficulty breathing in severe cases.