State Health Department Relaxes Advisory for Lake Ontario Chinook Salmon

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 22, 2008) – The New York State Department of Health today issued its latest health advisories in the annual state guide for chemicals in sportfish and game. The new advice is to eat no more than one meal per month of Lake Ontario chinook salmon. This is a change from the previous advisory to eat none and is based on data showing a decrease in PCBs and pesticides for Lake Ontario Chinook salmon over the last several years. However, the advice for women of child-bearing age and children under age 15 has not changed and remains EAT NONE.

State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., emphasized that "New Yorkers can get the health benefits of fish and reduce their exposures to unwanted contaminants by following the advisories. Fish are an important source of protein and are low in saturated fat. Naturally occurring fish oils lower plasma cholesterol and triglycerides and may have other health benefits."

"However, women of childbearing age and children under age 15 should continue to avoid eating all fish from any listed waters with advisories." Dr. Daines added.

The annual health advisories provide updated advice for sports anglers, hunters and the general public about how to reduce exposure to chemical contaminants in sportfish and game. Health advisories now apply to 136 state waters. Previous advice for other Lake Ontario fish remains in effect. There are no other new advisories. This year, the state Health Department reviewed state Department of Environmental Conservation sampling data collected from approximately 2,000 fish in more than 20 waters across the state.

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 (one half-pound) of fish per week from these waters.

Mercury and PCBs, as well as 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 through 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.

Women of childbearing age and children under age 15 should avoid eating all fish from any listed waters with advisories. They should also avoid eating northern pike, pickerel, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and larger yellow perch (over 10 inches) from all waters in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountain regions because of mercury contamination.

New York state has issued fish advisories to protect public health for nearly 40 years and has one of the most comprehensive fish advisory programs in the nation. New York's waters include more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, lakes, reservoirs, ponds and marine waters.

The fish advisories are published in the Fishing Regulations Guide issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The complete health advisories and additional information can be found at http://www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/fish.htm or by calling the Health Department's toll-free information line at 1-800-458-1158 extension 2-7815.