Friday, March 1, 2013

We are what we eat: State issues 2013 fish consumption advisories

With the clean-up of the Ashtabula River has come the cleansing of the fish that reside there.

So much so that Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has scaled back the advisory on eating either carp or freshwater drum (sheepshead) reeled in from the stream’s waters.

Not that many people would eat a drum, let alone a carp.

What it does indicate, however, is the improvements made the Ashtabula River’s water quality.

In releasing its annual Fish Consumption Advisory, the Ohio EPA notes that Fish Consumption Advisories have been updated for 2013.

It is vital to remember these are advisories - or recommendations - but they are not prohibitions where people would be arrested or fined for keeping fish, let alone eating them.

This year’s Ohio fish consumption advisory includes updates for several locations based on samples that were taken from five lakes and 12 streams in 2011, says Ohio EPA spokeswoman, Linda Oros.

“Fish consumption evaluations help Ohio anglers make informed decisions about consuming their catch,” Oros says.

Not all is perfect, though, Oros notes.

A statewide advisory of one fish meal per week due to mercury remains for all fish not otherwise mentioned in the official agency document, Oros says.

“Mercury poses a greater health risk to women of child-bearing age, pregnant and nursing mothers and children under 15,” Oros says. “Fish contaminated with high levels of mercury have been shown to cause neurological damage and impaired development in young children.”

Additionally, the advisory on Lake Erie-caught rock bass has become more restrictive. It is now one meal per month for all people; this, the result of PCB contamination.

Also remaining are the 10 “do not eat” advisories for a host of fish species. Among the recommended prohibitions are all species taken from the Maumee River at the point of Auburn Ave. to the stream’s mouth; channel catfish caught from the Ohio River at a point of the Pennsylvania border to the Belleville Lock, and for smallmouth bass over 15 inches when caught from the Mahoning River at Alliance to the Pennsylvania border.

On the list too is eating more than one meal per month of steelhead trout caught from Lake Erie or any of its tributaries as well as for white bass, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, sheepshead, white perch, lake trout, rock bass, brown bullhead, and whitefish over 19 inches.

More liberal is the advisory for Lake Erie-caught yellow perch, which is two meals per week.
Other fish consumption advisories are in place for a host of other Northeast Ohio locations as well.

And while these advisories vary as to species of concern and the number of recommended meals, they are postings that anglers should not ignore.

Among the area’s lake and streams with their own specific fish consumption advisories are the Chagrin, Cuyahoga and Grand rivers, Conneaut Creek, LaDue Reservoir, Pymatuning Reservoir, and New Lyme Lake.

Even advisories on eating snapping turtles is found within the Ohio EPA’s extensive and easy-to-navigate and understand web site and advisory booklet.

And there are four advisories against swimming, too. Locations include portions of Dicks Creek, the Little Scioto River, the Mahoning River, and the Ottawa River at Toledo.

A complete roster of Ohio fish advisories can be found on Ohio EPA’s website,

Or call 614-644-2160 and request a copy.

Also, fish consumption advisory contact information is being provided to anglers and found within the fishing license law digest.

More information about fish consumption also can be found at Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Centers, local health departments, Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Natural Resources district offices.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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