State Health Department Issues Annual Fish Advisories

ALBANY, May 5, 2006 - The New York State Department of Health (DOH) today released changes in New York's health advisories as part of its annual guide for chemicals in sportfish and game.

This year's sportfish guide includes changes in the advisories for the Hudson River (due to PCBs) and the New York Harbor area (due to dioxins and PCBs). Sixteen additional advisories address findings of elevated mercury levels in sportfish in specific ponds, lakes and reservoirs across New York State. DOH is also advising women of childbearing years and children under the age of 15 to avoid eating any fish from these waters.

Women of childbearing years and children under the age of 15 should also avoid eating specific species of fish (northern pike, pickerel, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and larger yellow perch) from all waters in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountain regions because of mercury contamination. A long-standing, general statewide advisory still applies to sportfish taken from any freshwaters in the state and some marine waters at the mouth of the Hudson River. The general advice is to eat no more than one meal (1/2 pound) of fish per week.

Mercury, PCBs, dioxin and other fish contaminants may affect the nervous system of children born to mothers exposed to these chemicals. Some of these contaminants may also build up in women's bodies and some chemicals may be passed to newborns in their mother's milk. Because some contaminants may accumulate and remain in the body for a long time, women should follow the stricter consumption advice throughout their childbearing years.

This year, DOH reviewed State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sampling data collected from approximately 3,000 fish in more than 50 waters across the state. New data for mercury in sportfish are part of a comprehensive DEC study supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. In addition, DOH evaluated new data from a study on contaminants in fish and shellfish from New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary waters.

The annual health advisories provide advice for sports anglers, hunters and the general public about how to reduce exposure to chemical contaminants in sportfish and game. Specific advisories now apply to 135 New York waters.

New health advisories for the Lower Hudson River and New York Harbor Area:

  • Hudson River, South of Catskill -This year DOH is adding advisories to EAT NO channel catfish and white catfish from the Hudson River south of the bridge at Catskill. This advice is based on data showing elevated levels of PCBs in these fish.
  • Newark Bay, Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull - The new advisories are EAT NO American eel, striped bass and white perch from these waters, due to new data showing elevated levels of dioxin and PCBs.
  • Upper Bay of New York Harbor and Western Raritan Bay - The new advisory is EAT NO white perch from the Upper Bay of New York Harbor and the portion of Raritan Bay west of Wolfe's Pond Park (Staten Island), based on new data showing elevated dioxin and PCB levels in white perch.

New health advisories for elevated mercury levels in sportfish apply to the following waters:

  • Blue Mountain Lake (Hamilton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of largemouth bass larger than 15 inches and smallmouth bass larger than 15 inches.
  • Dyken Pond (Rensselaer County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of largemouth bass.
  • Fresh Pond (in Hither Hills State Park, Suffolk County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of largemouth bass larger than 15 inches.
  • Great Sacandaga Lake (Fulton and Saratoga Counties) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass and walleye.
  • Lake Eaton (Hamilton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass.
  • Lincoln Pond (Essex County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of largemouth bass larger than 15 inches.
  • Long Lake (Hamilton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of northern pike.
  • Lower Saranac Lake (Franklin County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass larger than 15 inches.
  • Osgood Pond (Franklin County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass.
  • Pine Lake (Fulton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of largemouth bass.
  • Raquette Lake (Hamilton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of largemouth bass.
  • Rushford Lake (Allegany County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye.
  • Sacandaga Lake (Hamilton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass.
  • Union Falls Flow (Clinton and Franklin Counties) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of northern pike and smallmouth bass.
  • Upper Chateaugay Lake (Clinton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass larger than 15 inches.
  • Woods Lake (Hamilton County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of smallmouth bass larger than 15 inches.

New York's waters include more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, three million acres in thousands of lakes, reservoirs and ponds and one million acres of marine waters. New York's fish monitoring and advisory program is among the most comprehensive in the nation.

The fish advisories are published in the Fishing Regulations Guide issued by DEC. The complete Health Advisories and additional information can be found at the DOH website at www.health,ny.gov or by calling the State's toll-free information line at 1-800-458-1158.