Health Department Issues 2002-2003 Fish Advisories for Recreational Anglers

Albany, May 24, 2002 - The State Health Department today released the 2002-2003 advisories for recreational fishing in New York State. The advisories include changes for the Boyds Corner Reservoir (Putnam County), the Cross River Reservoir (Westchester County) and the Schoharie Reservoir (Delaware, Greene and Schoharie Counties) and for sections of the Hudson River.

The advisories released today are only for sportfish that people catch recreationally and are not for commercial fish sold in markets. Specific Advisories -- Identify fish from more than 70 water bodies - including those advisories discussed below - where sportfish have elevated levels of chemical contaminants. The General Advisory -- Applies 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) of fish per week. The advisories help people minimize their exposure to contaminants in sportfish and game and reduce health risks.

The 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 sportfish and game they take in New York State. The advisories are published each spring by the State Health Department and each August 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 the fetus or young children and may build up in women's bodies and be passed on in mother's milk.

New York City Reservoir Advisory Changes

  • Boyds Corner Reservoir (Putnam County) - The new advisory is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL (½ pound) PER MONTH of largemouth bass larger than 16 inches and walleye (all sizes) from Boyds Corner Reservoir. This is based on new data that indicate that walleye and larger largemouth bass from Boyds Corner Reservoir have mercury levels higher than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration marketplace standard for mercury in fish (1 part per million).
  • Cross River Reservoir (Westchester County) - The new advisory for Cross River Reservoir is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of both largemouth and smallmouth bass larger than 16 inches. This is based on new data showing elevated mercury levels in larger largemouth and smallmouth bass from Cross River Reservoir.
  • Schoharie Reservoir (Delaware, Greene and Schoharie Counties) - The new advisory is EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye (all sizes) from the Schoharie Reservoir. This is based on elevated levels of mercury in walleye.

Previous advisories for New York City reservoirs, based on elevated mercury levels remain in effect. A complete listing is available in the Health Department advisories.

Mercury can enter water bodies from a variety of sources, including runoff from the land and fallout from the air. The specific source of mercury in each of these reservoirs has not been determined. Accumulation of mercury in fish depends on complex physical, chemical and biological factors that are not fully understood by scientists. Fish accumulate mercury from the food they eat and directly from the water. As a result, mercury concentrations are typically much higher in fish than in the water in which they live. Elevated levels of mercury in fish have been documented in New York State including remote areas in the Adirondacks and developed areas, in addition to some New York City reservoirs.

New York City's water distribution system is regularly tested by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for various contaminants, including mercury. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection's most recent annual water quality statement lists mercury among the regulated conventional physical and chemical parameters that are not detected in the City's water distribution system.

Hudson River Advisory Changes

  • Hudson River between Dam in South Glens Falls (at Route 9 Bridge) and Hudson Falls - The new advisory is EAT NONE for all fish taken from a three-mile section of the Hudson River, from the dam in South Glens Falls (at the Route 9 bridge) to Hudson Falls. This is based on new data showing that several species of fish from this section of the Hudson River have PCB levels higher than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration marketplace standard for PCBs in fish (2 parts per million). Since this advice already applied to an adjacent (downstream) portion of the river, the advisory to EAT NO fish of any species now extends for a total of 47 miles, from the dam in South Glens Falls (at the Route 9 Bridge) to the Troy Dam.
  • Hudson River from Bridge at Catskill South to and Including the Upper Bay of New York Harbor (north of Verrazano Narrows Bridge), Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull - The new advisories are EAT NO gizzard shad and EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of channel catfish. These advisories are based on new data showing elevated PCB levels in gizzard shad and channel catfish. Previous advice remains in effect to EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of American eel, Atlantic needlefish, bluefish, carp, goldfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow smelt, striped bass, walleye, white catfish and white perch and to EAT NO MORE THAN SIX blue crabs per week from these waters.

Previous advisories for other sections of the Hudson River also remain in effect and are available in the Health Department advisories.

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 Health Department's Web site at: http://www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/fish.htm or can be requested via e-mail: BTSA@health.state.ny.us.

Information about the New York City Reservoir System, including fishing access, is available through the New York City Department of Environmental Protection at 718-337-4357 (718-DEP-HELP) or the Department of Environmental Protection's website at http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/dep

5/24/02-53 OPA