Gwen Gilson at her Boreen Point fish hatchery.
Gwen Gilson at her Boreen Point fish hatchery. Geoff Potter

Hatchery owner may leave home

AFTER more bouts of ill-health, Boreen Point fish hatchery operator Gwen Gilson may be forced off her property because of her fears spray drift continues making her ill.

Ms Gilson's Sunland freshwater hatchery has gained national notoriety for the mass spawnings of two-headed fish that sparked a Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce inquiry.

The results released this June found tests at her property did not prove conclusive evidence to warrant a ban on the use of agri-chemicals on the macadamia farm next door.

This week one of Ms Gilson's supporters, Cindy Medway, reported that Ms Gilson and her dog were sick again, coinciding with the start of spraying on the macadamia plantation.

Ms Gilson was just finishing a course of anti-vomiting medication, but feared she would be sick again soon and reportedly was considering moving herself and her animals off her property.

However macadamia farmer Troy Ziesemer said although he had sprayed recently, there were no chemicals used in what was a seaweed-based fertiliser.

Mr Ziesemer said he was using bio-based pest controls on his farm and would make use of them as much as he could.

But he said he was "not going away" and when the need arose, he would be using chemical sprays in accordance with industry best practice.

That would mean letting Ms Gilson know when the sprays were going to be used.

One of the taskforce veterinarians, Dr Matt Landos, who has been leading the campaign to restrict or ban the use of agri-chemicals because of the threat to local fish stocks, recently implored the Federal Government to intervene to find out what sprays were being used to possibly help with Ms Gilson's medical treatment.

"She is coincidently sick, again. Just as she was last year, and the year before, at exactly this time of year," Dr Landos said.

And Dr Landos has provided a June 2010 doctor's letter sent to the Queensland Director-General of Health.

Her local doctor said that Ms Gilson had been exposed to spray drift and "presented to me with a cough of such severity I had her tested for Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) infection, which proved negative".

"We believe that the cough was secondary to exposure to spray-drift chemicals," the letter said.

The doctor requested help from the director-general to support a change in legislation to force a mandatory notification to neighbours of when sprays were to be used and what they were.

The same doctor also treated Ms Gilson's son David for a liver complaint and last year recommended that he no longer work on the property or even visit when next door's spraying was in progress.

Part of the recommendations from the taskforce directed to the macadamia farm was to alert the hatchery of spraying activities.

A recommendation to Ms Gilson was to "maintain water levels in the ponds as high as possible" to avoid potential adverse spray drift effects.


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