By Wendy Williams
THE Spanish government is in deep water for keeping a study of contaminated seafood secret for seven years.
It has emerged that it hushed up an in depth study in 2003 which concluded that mercury levels were higher than permitted for many popular species fished in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Now, after a three-year legal battle, the environmental group Oceana has finally won access to the three-volume report which analyzed contamination in 90 species.
The report by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) revealed that 62.5 per cent of the 128 samples of short fin mako shark had higher than permitted levels of mercury while 54.2 percent of swordfish also exceeded the limit.
But the Environment Ministry argued that the study was an internal working document which is why not made public.
“It wasn’t given out because they didn’t want to cause alarm,” said Xavier Pastor of Oceana.
“Heavy-metal pollution in large pelagic species is a serious issue, but there were fears on the impact it could have on the fishing industry if were to be made public.”
It comes on the back of new stricter health warnings issued by the Spanish Agency for Food and Nutritional Safety, regarding the consumption of blue fin tuna, shark and swordfish as well as some vegetables.
Among the new recommendations they advise that pregnant women and children under three avoid swordfish, red tuna and shark, and the under 12’s limit consumption to 50 grams a week.