Title

Aboriginal consumption of estuarine food resources and potential implications for health through trace metal exposure: a study in Gumbaynggirr Country, Australia

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Russell, S, Sullivan, CA & Reichelt-Brushett, AJ 2015, 'Aboriginal consumption of estuarine food resources and potential implications for health through trace metal exposure: a study in Gumbaynggirr Country, Australia', PL o S One.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Fishing and resource use continues to be an essential aspect of life for many Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. It is important for dietary sustenance, and also retains deep social, cultural and economic significance, playing a fundamental role in maintaining group cohesion, transferring cultural knowledge and affirming Indigenous identities. We surveyed approximately 20% of the Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal community of Nambucca Heads, New South Wales, Australia. This paper explores Gumbaynggirr Connection to Country and engagement in cultural practice. It quantifies fishing efforts and consumption of seafood within the community. We found 95% of the sample group fish, with the highest rate of fishing being 2-3 times a week (27%). Furthermore, 98% of participants eat seafood weekly or more frequently, up to more than once a day (24%). Survey results revealed that Myxus elongatus(Sand mullet) and naturally recruited Saccostrea glomerata (Sydney rock oysters) continue to be important wild resources to the Gumbaynggirr community. Trace metals were measured inM. elongatus and S. glomerata samples collected by community participants in this study. Maximum levels prescribed in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code were not exceeded in the edible tissue for either species, however both species exceeded the generally expected levels for zinc and copper and S. glomerata samples exceeded the generally expected level for selenium. Furthermore the average dietary exposure to trace metals from consuming seafood was calculated for the surveyed population. Trace metal intake was then compared to the provisional tolerable weekly intake prescribed by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives. This process revealed that copper and selenium intake were both within the provisional tolerable weekly intake, while there is no guideline for zinc. Furthermore, participants relying heavily on wild resources from the Nambucca River estuary may exceed the provisional tolerable weekly intake for cadmium. This suggests the need for further investigation of this issue to minimize any possible health risk.