Health Department Issues 2001-2002 Fish Advisories for Recreational Anglers

Albany, July 10, 2001 – The State Health Department today released the 2001–2002 advisories for recreational fishing in New York State. The advisories include changes for the Upper and Lower Sister Lakes (Hamilton County), Dart and Big Moose Lakes (Herkimer County), the Soft Maple Reservoir (Lewis County) and part of the Hudson River. This year's advisory also includes information for anglers on dioxin and PCB contamination in Onondaga Lake fish.

The advisories released today are only for sportfish that people catch recreationally and are not for commercial fish sold in markets. The advisories identify fish from more than 70 water bodies – including those discussed below – where sportfish have elevated levels of chemical contaminants. The advisories help people minimize their exposure to contaminants in sportfish and game and reduce health risks.

New advisories are updated annually and we continue to remind and inform sports anglers and hunters about the potential health effects of chemical contaminants in some fish and game they take in New York State. The advisories are published each spring by the State Health Department and each fall in the Fishing and Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guides issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The State Health Department develops its advisories based on data from the State Department of Environmental Conservation's ongoing fish and wildlife monitoring programs.

Special advice for women, infants and children has not changed. Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 are advised to EAT NO sportfish from the waters listed in the advisories. The chemicals in the sportfish may affect developing systems in young children or the fetus, and may build up in women's bodies and be passed on in mother's milk.

Advisory Changes

Upper and Lower Sister Lakes (Hamilton County) – The new advisory is EAT NO yellow perch larger than 10 inches from Upper and Lower Sister Lakes. This is based on new data that indicate that larger yellow perch from Upper and Lower Sister Lakes have mercury levels higher than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration marketplace standard for mercury in fish (1 part per million).

Dart Lake (Herkimer County) – The new advisory for Dart Lake is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of yellow perch larger than 10 inches. This is due to new data showing elevated mercury levels in larger yellow perch from Dart Lake.

Big Moose Lake (Herkimer County) – The new advisory is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of yellow perch larger than 9 inches. This is based on new data showing that larger yellow perch have higher mercury levels than smaller yellow perch.

Soft Maple Reservoir (Lewis County) – The new advisory is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of rock bass (all sizes). This is based on elevated mercury levels in rock bass.

Hudson River between Corinth Dam and Bakers Falls – The new advisory is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass larger than 14 inches taken from the Hudson River between the Corinth Dam and Bakers Falls. This is based on elevated mercury levels in larger smallmouth bass.

Previous Hudson River advisories due to PCB contamination remain in effect. See the Department's Website or advisory booklet for complete listing.

Onondaga Lake (Onondaga County) – the previous advisories to EAT NO walleye and EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of all other fish species remain in effect, due to mercury contamination. Additionally, both dioxin and PCBs are now identified as contaminants of concern in Onondaga Lake carp and channel catfish.

General Advice

The Department's General Advisory to recreational anglers for sportfish taken from any fresh waters in the State and some marine waters at the mouth of the Hudson River is to EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL (1/2 pound) per week and has not changed. Women of childbearing age, infants and children under the age of 15 are advised not to consume any sportfish from the waters listed in the advisories.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued special advice in March, 2001 for women of childbearing age and young children for eating some commercial fish species that may contain high levels of mercury. Due to elevated mercury levels, the FDA advises pregnant women, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children to EAT NO shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.

This advice is issued with the understanding that seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant. FDA advice to these women is that they can eat up to 12 ounces per week of a variety of other kinds of fish. The FDA has a toll–free number at 1–888–INFO–FDA, for additional information. The complete FDA advisory can be found online at: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg.html. Additional information for consumers about mercury in fish purchased from the market can be found at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html

Copies of the Department of Health advisories for fish and wildlife consumption and additional information can be obtained by calling 1–800–458–1158, extension 27815. The full text of the advisories is also available on the Department's Web site at: www.health.state.ny.us or can be requested via e–mail: BTSA@health.state.ny.us

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