Sunday, April 16, 2017

Some improvements seen in Ohio's new 2017 fish consumption advisories

Improvement to the water quality of the Ottawa River in northwest Ohio has led the state to remove the previous “do not eat” advisories for the stream.

In its place the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has stamped consumption guidelines of lesser concern for fish caught from the Toledo area river.

The action came as part of Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler’s announcement April 3rd for the state’s latest – and annual - guidelines for eating fish caught from Ohio’s lakes, rivers and streams. It is vital to note that the postings are advisories only and are not prohibitions.

“The types of fish you find in a river are great indicators of the health of the water and the Ottawa River in Toledo represents one of Ohio’s great ongoing success stories,” Butler said.

In part, Butler also says, the lowering of the advisories for the Ottawa River came through a team approach that embraced clean-water activities conducted by state and local entities along with initiatives led by the federal government via the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

 “As we know, however, there is still more work to do to improve water quality throughout Lake Erie and Ohio River watersheds,” Butler said.

However, Butler did not address the threat to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Under the present federal budget proposal as advanced by the Trump Administration funding for the GLRI has been line itemed into oblivion, though Great Lakes legislators promise that money will be restored.

Besides the news about the Ottawa River, the Ohio EPA says that several other waterways also saw easing of fish consumption advisories. Among them were Atwood, Belmont and Loramie lakes, as well as the Huron and Walhonding rivers.

Besides fish the advisories include meal consumption advisories for snapping turtles. In all, four bodies of waters are encompassed in this recommended strategy include the Ashtabula Black and Maumee rivers (each no more than one meal per week and all for mercury); the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (also no more than one meal per week and for lead); and the Ottawa River (a blanket do not eat advisory).

Snapping turtles taken from Lake Rockwell in Portage County were found to have low levels of contamination but no advisory was installed.

Similarly the Ohio EPA’s documentation features potential danger associated for certain classes of at-risk populations when eating several salt-water fish species even though such aquati fishes are not found in Ohio.

Besides the consumption advisories posted in the document its protocols likewise incorporate cautions against swimming in certain bodies of water around the state. Included in this portion of the document are sections of Dicks Creek in Butler County; the Little Scioto River in Marion County; the Mahoning River in Mahoning and Trumbull counties; and the Ottawa River in Lucas County.

The Ohio EPA partners with Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop the Sport Fish Consumption Advisory.

Additional information about fish consumption safety for women of child-bearing age, pregnant and nursing mothers, and children under 15 can be found at Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Centers, local health departments, Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources regional offices.
The 2017 fish consumption advisory information is available online. Printed copies can be requested by calling (614) 644-2160.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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