Black Fillet Project

Frequently Asked Questions

We answer the most common questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to eat fish with melanisation of the flesh?

The answer is – we don’t yet know. We need to identify the cause of the melanisation before we’ll know this.

What is 'Melanisation'of fish?

It’s where the normally white muscle/flesh turns black. This can happen for a variety of reasons – parasites, toxic substances, or minerals obtained through diet can cause it.
Fish Melanisation Scale

What fish species has melanisation been reported in so far?

In Tasmania, melanisation has been confirmed in Sand Flathead. Worldwide, a number of species have been reported with melanisation, including Atlantic Cod, Atlantic salmon, flatfish, sea bream.

What are the causes of melanisation?

Where muscle melanisation has been reported in 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 Sand Flathead.

What are the objectives of this project?

Each year there are many reports and concerns raised by the recreational fishing community in Tasmania regarding areas of blackened flesh in Sand Flathead fillets, a phenomenon known as melanisation. Whilst many reports are from the Derwent and Tamar estuaries, reports also extend to more pristine waters. The geographical extent of the issue, its causes, the risk to the fish and human health are unclear. Furthermore, whether other species are also affected by this phenomenon is unknown. This project aims to track the extent of melanisation, look for patterns, and determine which species exhibit it.

I have had problems with submitting my photos, who can I contact?

No problem, please email us: [email protected]

I don't have a photo, can I still submit my information?

Yes! We’d appreciate that.

What will you do with the information I submit to this project?

We’ll use the location and degree of melanisation to look for patterns in its occurrence. It will also help us track changes in the frequency that it occurs and look at whether multiple species are affected.

When and how will you let us know the project results?

We’ll be updating information on our website as data are collected, and results come in.
If you've ever seen this in Sand Flathead or any other fish that you have caught around Tasmania
Let Us Know
fish icon at black fillet project
Research for the future of sustainable fishing in and around Tasmania