State Health Department Issues Annual Fish Advisories

New Advice Reflects Changes for Marine Waters Surrounding Long Island

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 12, 2009) –The New York State Health Department today released 2009-2010 health advisories as part of its annual guide for chemicals in sportfish and game.

The advice for most State waters remains the same as last year. However, the new advice for women of childbearing age and children under age 15 is to EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of certain fish species, including striped bass and large bluefish, from most marine (salt) waters surrounding Long Island.

This is a change from the previous advisories of EAT NONE and/or EAT ONE MEAL PER WEEK and is based on three factors: recent health studies of early-life exposure to PCBs associated with developmental effects; decreased PCB levels in fish, and the health benefits derived from fish consumption.

The annual health advisories provide advice for sports anglers, hunters and the general public about how to reduce exposure to contaminants, such as PCBs and mercury, in sportfish and game. The Department's recommendations are based in part on the review of state Department of Environmental Conservation sampling data collected from approximately 2,000 fish in more than 20 waters across the state.

"It is especially important that women of childbearing age and children under age 15 follow the new marine waters sportfish advisories, as well as the other advisories for New York waters," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Fish is an important source of protein and is low in saturated fats. New Yorkers can reduce their exposures to unwanted contaminants and still receive these health benefits by following the advice contained in the advisories."

It is recommended that women of childbearing age and children under age 15 not eat any fish from any of the 135 fresh and Hudson estuary waters listed in the health advisories. This advice does not apply to the marine waters surrounding Long Island that are covered by today's new advisories.

Women should continue to adhere to the existing advice to 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 due to mercury contamination.

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 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 this consumption advice throughout their childbearing years.

Based on decreased chlordane levels in fish, the existing statewide advisory to EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER WEEK now applies to all fish caught in St. James Pond in Suffolk County. This advice reflects a change from previous advisories to EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH.

The current 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.

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, ext. 27815.

New Advisories

Advisories for Marine Waters Around Long Island

Advisories Cover Lower Bay of New York Harbor, Raritan Bay East of Wolfe's Pond Park, Jamaica Bay, Long Island Sound, Long Island South Shore Waters, Peconic and Gardiners Bays, and Block Island Sound
Population Advice (Chemicals of Concern)
Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 EAT NO weakfish greater than 25 inches.
EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of American eel, striped bass, bluefish greater than 20 inches, and weakfish (less than or equal to 25 inches).
Eat no more than one meal per week of smaller bluefish (less than or equal to 20 inches).
(PCBs)
Women beyond childbearing age and adult males EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of weakfish greater than 25 inches.
Eat no more than one meal per week of American eel, bluefish, striped bass and smaller weakfish.
(PCBs)
Everyone The hepatopancreas ("the green stuff" also known as mustard, tomalley, liver) found in the body section of crabs and lobsters should not be eaten, because it has high contaminant levels. Because contaminants are transferred to cooking liquid, crab or lobster cooking liquid should also be discarded. (cadmium, dioxin and PCBs)

New Advisory for St. James Pond, Suffolk County

Population Advice (Chemicals of Concern)
Everyone EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER WEEK of all fish species, due to decreased chlordane levels.