Article Posted: January 24, 2000

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October 6, 1999


State officials responsible for monitoring Pennsylvania waterways and protecting public health have updated the statewide listing of fish consumption advisories. Four new advisories have been added, advice for one Lake Erie species and two Allegheny River species has been changed, and one advisory segment has been revised.
"Fishing is a wonderful recreational activity and eating fresh fish regularly can improve your overall health," said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary James M. Seif. "Unfortunately, certain fish from some locations contain levels of chemicals that may be harmful, so anglers and others who eat fish should take note of this advisory to reduce any potential risks."

Officials recommend that people eating white suckers from the Beaverdam Branch of the Juniata River, Blair County, eat only one meal per week.

Those eating bluegills and brown bullhead catfish from the Schuylkill River, Schuylkill and Berks counties, from the confluence of the Mahannon Creek at Landingville to Kernsville Dam are advised to eat only one meal a month.

People eating rainbow and brown trout taken from the Tulpehocken Creek, Berks County, from Blue Marsh Lake to the mouth also are advised to limit consumption to one meal a month.

Carp more than 20 inches long taken from Lake Erie should not be eaten.

Consumption of carp from the Little Neshaminy Creek basin, (Bucks County) is recommended to not exceed one meal per month, while the eating of smallmouth bass, white suckers and all other species taken from the stream is advised at no more than one meal per week.

The revised listing also removed the "do not eat" recommendation on carp and channel catfish from the Allegheny River, Allegheny County, from Lock and Dam 3 to the Point in Pittsburgh. Officials now recommend that these species be eaten no more than once a month.

The advisory section for Trindle Springs Run, Cumberland County, was shortened to the one-mile section from Silver Spring Meeting House to the mouth. Officials recommend that rainbow trout taken from that section of stream be eaten at a rate of no more than one meal per month.

The advisory is based on a protocol developed by the Great Lakes states to address contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Specific meal advice is given, advising how much a particular kind of fish can safely be eaten, and places the fish under one of the following categories: no restriction, one meal per week, one meal per month, one meal every two months or do not eat. One meal is considered to be one-half pound of fish for a 150-pound person.

The advice is equally protective for larger people who eat larger meals and smaller people who eat smaller meals.

"Families have enjoyed fishing as a wholesome outdoor sport for generations and it is important to note that the intent of the advisory is not to discourage angling activity," Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Peter A. Colangelo said. "Instead, this advisory helps people plan what fish to keep as well as how often and how much of their catch to eat."

People who regularly eat sport fish, women of childbearing age and children are most susceptible to contaminants that build up in fish over time. Those people should space fish meals out according to the advisory. Spacing meals helps prevent contaminants from building to harmful levels in the body.

Women beyond childbearing years and men face fewer health risks from contaminants, but also should follow the advisory.

When properly prepared, fish provide a diet high in protein and low in saturated fats. Many doctors suggest that eating a half-pound of fish each week is helpful in preventing heart disease. People can get the health benefits of eating fish and reduce their exposure to PCBs and other organic contaminants by properly cleaning and cooking the fish.

Anglers should properly clean, skin and trim any fish they catch to reduce their exposure to contaminants. When preparing fish, remove the skin before cooking. Trim fat away and broil or grill the fish to allow any fat to drip away. Juices and fats that cook out of the fish should not be eaten or reused for cooking other foods.

These fish consumption advisories will appear in the 2000 Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws issued to all licensed anglers. The Little Neshaminy Creek advisory will not be listed in the Summary, as the data on that stream was received after the book had gone to print.

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