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22 September 2023 Statement

On Monday 18 September 2023, an incident occurred at CSIRO’s aquaculture operation at the Bribie Island Research Centre, during which an estimated 40L of small bio media beads entered the ocean. 

The issue was addressed immediately, and repair work to the affected equipment was completed by approximately 3pm on Monday. 

The bio media beads are about the size of a small chocolate M&M. They are used to support filtering fish tanks by lowering nitrogen in the water, thereby keeping the fish healthy.  

CSIRO Aquaculture Research Director Dr Mat Cook confirmed that efforts are focused on recovering as many of the beads as possible.  

“We have a team of expert CSIRO oceanographers using models to figure out what direction the remaining beads could have spread and have CSIRO researchers from Bribie Island aiding in the clean-up," Dr Cook said.  

“We are working with the Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA) on the clean-up efforts and met with the group this morning to discuss the matter and assess the number of beads recovered by the community. We are extremely grateful for their assistance in this clean-up effort.” 

Dr Cook said while the bio media beads are highly stable and non-toxic to humans, he will be working with CSIRO’s team of marine biologists and waste experts to help understand any risks to sea and wildlife. 

“We know how important the environment is to the local Bribie community. Our team at Bribie Island has dedicated much of their lives to research that is helping improve environmental outcomes for fish, prawns and other marine life. We are working with the authorities and community to address the situation and minimise any impact on the environment and wildlife,” said Dr Cook. 

“It’s the first time anything like this has happened at the site in our 12 years of research here. 

“I’d like to once again extend our thanks to residents and local groups who have helped us collect the bio media from beaches. I urge the public to take any beads found to the BIEPA drop off area at Edwin Shragg Lookout, Boyd St Woorim, which will be open over the weekend between 6 and 9am,” he said. 

CSIRO’s research at the Bribie Island facility plays a critical role in aquaculture management and associated aquatic ecological research. 

Members of the community can contact CSIRO on 1300 363 400 for more information.

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