Information for Participants

Thank you for considering to take part in this survey.  Please note, respondents should be 18 years or older and recreational fishers in Tasmania.

Each year there are many reports and concerns raised by the recreational fishing community 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. 

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.

The purpose of this survey is to gain a greater understanding of the characteristics, and the factors contributing to the presence of melanised muscle and the locations where the phenomenon is present. In addressing these questions we hope to have a better scientific understanding of the implications of melanisation in Sand Flathead for the benefit of the general fishing community.

This survey is a component of a larger project examining various aspects of melanisation in Sand Flathead - the research team consists of Dr Jeremy Lyle, Prof Gretta Pecl, Dr Trevor Lewis and Prof Barbara Nowak (IMAS).  This survey will be used as partial fulfilment of an Honours degree for Clayton Stocker. The focus of the Honours study is the relationship between melanisation and capture location, size, sex and condition of the fish.

Participation in this survey is voluntary and expected to take 10-15 minutes to complete.  The practical knowledge of the recreational fishing community in extending our understanding of the patterns, location and prevalence of this phenomenon is invaluable.

This study has been approved by the Tasmanian Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of this study, please contact the Executive Officer of the HREC (Tasmania) Network on +61 3 6226 6254 or email The Executive Officer is the person nominated to receive complaints from research participants. Please quote the following ethics reference number (H0017513).

Submitting this survey confirms your consent for the information you have provided to be used for this research.  Please be assured, any personal identifying information will be treated in the strictest confidence and will be removed from the databases at the completion of the survey. 
Thank you
Dr Jeremy Lyle