Updated fish consumption advice for 2013 is now available and suggests that the ongoing cleanup of PCBs from the Fox River is beginning to pay off, with anglers able to eat more of some fish species from stretches of the river and from Green Bay, state fish contaminant officials say.

“The good news on the Fox River is that contaminant levels are dropping for some species,” says Candy Schrank, Department of Natural Resources toxicologist who coordinates fish consumption advice.

“That allows us to relax the consumption advice slightly for those species and suggests that we’ll see continued reductions in contaminant levels in other species as the cleanup work is fully completed and in years after,” she says.

Specifically on the Fox River system:

  • There is a slight relaxation of consumption advice for northern pike from Little Lake Buttes Des Morts to the DePere dam, a stretch where remediation was recently completed. Effectiveness is being evaluated by testing every four to five years. In 2011, advice for smallmouth bass was relaxed.
  • Consumption advice for white bass in the stretch of the Fox River from De Pere to the mouth of the Fox River, where remediation is still underway, also has been relaxed in accordance with new DNR data. Anglers can now enjoy up to six meals per year of white bass, a species that people were previously advised not to eat.
  • For Green Bay, advice was relaxed for smaller sizes of northern pike and white bass.

Other highlights for 2013

Other highlights for 2013 include:

  • Relaxation of fish consumption advice for five fish species from Lake Superior. People can already eat more fish meals of many Lake Superior species than elsewhere in the state and compared to fish from the other Great Lakes.
  • Spider/Clear Lake in Sawyer County has had its advice relaxed to the general statewide caution due to lower levels of mercury in walleye tested from that water.
  • Fish consumption advice is now more stringent than the general advisory for some species from Winter Lake in Sawyer County, Pipe Lake in Polk County and Oxbow Lake in Vilas County.
  • Remediation work on Cedar Creek and the Milwaukee River continues. New data was used to update the consumption advice for those waters.

Every year DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services, examines new data, along with data from recent years, to re-evaluate the fish consumption advice.

The 2013 fish consumption advisory updates reflects new data on contaminant levels for 108 locations, most of them from fish collected by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, as well as by DNR and the U.S. Army.

Most waters in the state are covered by general statewide advice. In 2013, the number of waters that carry more specific, stringent advice due to higher contaminant levels in fish from those waters was 140.

Dr. Henry Anderson, chief medical officer of the Department of Health Services, urges anglers to check the 2013 advice to see if there have been any changes for the waters they like to fish.

“While the general consumption advice we offer covers the vast majority of waters, every year the new data we collect and analyze leads to some changes that people will want to know about to protect their health or that enable them to eat more fish meals from that water.”

Fish are a low-cost, low-fat source of protein, minerals and vitamins but people need to be aware of the kinds of fish they eat and where they come from, Anderson says. “By following Wisconsin’s fish consumption advice, people can enjoy the fun of fishing and the health benefits of eating fish while reducing their exposure to environmental contaminants that can build up in fish.”

Choose Wisely: A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin” is available online as a pamphlet in PDF format, and as a search tool that allows anglers to select the county and location they fish to see the specific consumption advice for that water.

Printed copies of the pamphlet will be available at DNR service centers and regional offices.

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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