State Health and Environmental Conservation Commissioners Announce Expanded Opportunities and New Resources Available for Anglers

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 22, 2014) - Acting State Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D. and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced updated guidance for the consumption of fish from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River that reflects decreased levels of contaminants in these fish. This comes at a time when anglers are experiencing some of the highest species-specific catch rates on record.

"Fishing is a popular recreational activity in our state, and fish are an important part of a healthy diet," said Acting Commissioner Dr. Zucker. "Since some fish contain chemicals that may be harmful to health, we issue advice to help New Yorkers make healthier choices about eating the fish they catch."

"State and federal programs that reduce contamination to the environment have a positive impact on fish and wildlife, and we are pleased that fish in western New York areas are now healthier to consume," Commissioner Martens said. "The new advice for Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River, two of New York's most heavily fished waters, demonstrates substantial environmental improvement and allows anglers to make greater use of these resources."

Fish consumption advice is reviewed each year based on fish samples collected from numerous waters in the state. DEC's regional fisheries units collected nearly 400 fish from the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario from 2010 to 2011. With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA's) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, DEC analyzed these fish for PCBs, pesticides, and other chemicals. The newly obtained data shows considerable decreases in contaminant levels, which means reduced exposure for people who eat the fish. DOH's review of these data resulted in the following new recommendations:

Men over age 15 and women over age 50 can now consume:

  • Up to 4 meals per month of Chinook salmon, coho salmon and rainbow trout from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River (downstream of Niagara Falls);
  • Up to 4 meals per month of smaller brown trout (less than 20 inches) and smaller lake trout (less than 25 inches) from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River (downstream of Niagara Falls); and
  • Up to 4 meals per month of smallmouth bass from the lower Niagara River.

This new advice does not apply to women under age 50 and children under age 15. They should not eat any fish from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River. DOH issues stricter advice for these more vulnerable groups.

This year's advisories also include a change for Keuka Lake, as there is no longer any specific advice for eating fish. Everyone can enjoy up to 4 meals per month of all fish from Keuka Lake.

Also new for 2014 is a "New York State Blue Crab Cooking and Eating Guide," which can be found at

DOH and DEC also remind hunters that waterfowl in the Hudson Riverbetween Hudson Falls and Troy are likely to have higher PCB levels than other areas of the State. Hunters are advised to harvest waterfowl from other locations of the Hudson River or other areas in the State.

New York has more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams; 7,600 lakes, ponds and reservoirs; two Great Lakes; and substantial marine waters and estuaries. Approximately two million adults and 650,000 children fish New York waters each year. DOH issues specific advice for approximately 150 waterbodies.

Fish advisory information is available in both statewide and regional formats as well as online.

To view the complete statewide advisories for fish and game or order free print materials, visit the DOH web site at or call 518-402-7530; toll-free at 800-458-1158.

Sportsmen and women may also be interested to know about the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational opportunities and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.

In support of this initiative, this year's budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have not reached their full potential. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state's fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

This year's budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.