A VETERINARIAN trying to expose agri-chemicals as the cause of Noosa fish deformities is demanding the authorities charge him for deliberately breaching the Animal Care and Protection Act.
Dr Matt Landos has told an animal welfare officer at Biosecurity Queensland that he will continue to put fish hatchlings and hatched chickens in harm’s way as he seeks to highlight State Government inaction.
The issue he refers to is the death and deformities occurring at the Sunland Freshwater Fish Hatchery at Boreen Point.
And Dr Landos said the apathy of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and the federal regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, needed to be taken to task.
“They have done absolutely nothing to effect proper health controls at the hatchery since the taskforce report was finalised over one year ago,” Dr Landos said last week.
A member of the Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce, Dr Landos has been campaigning for the State Government to release the findings of the investigation, which have been withheld allegedly because of court actions instigated by the hatchery and a neighbouring macadamia farm.
Dr Landos said there had been further mass fish larvae deaths at the hatchery, while breeding fish kept well off site had experienced normal births and larvae development.
As well, chickens and frogs were being born with leg and feet deformities or abnormal development patterns while wild birds had been dropping dead.
Dr Landos recently told the welfare officer by email and verbally that: “I have and will continue to ensure the placement of animals in harm’s way (case control field studies) at the fish hatchery.
“I have asked for more chickens to be bred, to morbidly see what deformities we can generate next, and what level of embryonic death we can induce. Not something I enjoy as a veterinarian; it does run against the grain.”
Dr Landos said he must continue to carry out these field studies to highlight the alleged health risks of spray drift.
He believes such wilful exposure of animals to harm is a cut and dried breach of the Act, but claims no animal welfare officers have contacted him or the property to carry out an investigation.
“I never thought I would commit an animal welfare offence, (at) least not wilfully,” he said.
“I never thought I would now have to request to be prosecuted.
“But then I never thought a case could be handled so badly which would perpetuate such harm, with such extraordinary procrastination and obfuscation by DEEDI and APVMA.”
The Biosecurity Queensland officer said on April 5 she was in the process of seeking other views on the animal welfare aspects of “this complex case”.
“In light of your concern about the conditions at the hatchery and their potential impact on animal welfare, please be advised that if animals are deliberately exposed to conditions that are likely to endanger their welfare this may amount to breaches of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001,” she said.
The next day the officer emailed Dr Landos to say “no prosecution action of any party has been proposed at this stage”. This week a DEEDI spokeswoman said the department had only received the quite technical material sent to them by Dr Landos and and was in the process of assessing it.
A spokeswoman for the APVMA said DEEDI has responsibility for pesticide use in Queensland. “As there is no clear evidence that pesticides are involved, there is no trigger for regulatory action by the APVMA at this time.”