Melanisation of Sand Flathead survey

Each year there are many reports from the recreational fishing community in Tasmania about Sand Flathead fillets that have areas of blackened flesh, a phenomenon known as melanisation.

While many reports are from the Derwent and Tamar estuaries, reports also extend to more pristine waters.  

The geographical extent of the issue, its causes and the risk to the fish are unclear.

Furthermore, it is unknown whether other species are also affected by this phenomenon.

Where muscle melanisation has been reported in fish species from the Northern Hemisphere it has been caused either by the presence of parasites or heavy metal (copper) residues in the muscle of the affected fish.  

Preliminary results from Tasmania suggest that neither parasites nor copper are involved in melanisation of flathead.

Flathead melanisationWe are inviting recreational fishers to share their observations of melanisation in Tasmanian fishes.  

By tapping into the practical knowledge of the recreational fishing community, we hope to gain a greater understanding of the patterns, locations and prevalence of this phenomenon.

In doing so we plan to draw conclusions on characteristics and factors of individual fish and locations that are contributing to the presence of melanisation.

If you would like to find out more please follow the link to SurveyMonkey.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
July 25, 2018