NYS Dept of Health relaxes rules for consuming wild-caught fish from various Adirondack waters
By Megan Plete Postol
The New York State Department of Health has released updated guidelines for women and children that change what fish, and what frequency, they can eat certain fish from certain waters.
This new guidelines have relaxed restrictions, stating that women up to age 50 and children up to age 15 can now eat up to four meals a month of brook trout, brown trout, bullhead, crappie, rainbow trout, rock bass, and sunfish.
Adirondack waters included in the advisory changes are:
- Fourth Lake of Fulton Chain (Herkimer and Hamilton counties) (*This is an increase from the earlier guidance that limited them to one meal per month from Fourth Lake.)
- Francis Lake (Lewis County)
- Lake Champlain, Bay within Cumberland Head to Peru Boat Launch (Clinton County)
- Piseco Lake (Hamilton County)
- Salmon River (Clinton County)
- Stark Falls Reservoir (St. Lawrence County)
The adjustments come from a reduction in chemical levels found in the fish taken from these waterways.
The chemical culprits behind most of the state’s sport fish consumption advisories are mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Mercury is a metal that both occurs naturally in the environment and gets into the environment from human activity. Fish that live longer and eat other fish tend to have more mercury than smaller fish, because it accumulates over time. Some fish in the Adirondacks have higher levels of mercury than in other parts of the state. For this reason, women and children are advised not to eat largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch longer than ten inches, walleye, northern pike, and pickerel from Adirondack waters, unless specifically noted. This NYS Department of Health recommendation is not new.
Other concerns beyond mercury are PCBs, which are a mixture of man-made chemicals that were used in many commercial and electrical products until they were banned in the mid-1970s, according to the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC). PCBs are persistent in the environment an accumulate in the fat of fish and other animals.
These substances, mercury and PCBs, can cause brain damage, hearing and vision problems to unborn babies when consumed by women who become pregnant. They can also cause developmental delays in children, among other health problems.
Women aged beyond their childbearing years and men of any age may face fewer health risks and can eat up to four meals a month of all fish from Adirondack waters, the DEC advises.
The process to collect the essential data required to set consumption guidelines for sport fish is ongoing.
Fish are collected from waterbodies throughout New York State, DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino
explained. The fish are dissected, homogenized, and then analyzed by DEC’s Analytical Services Unit at the Hale Creek Field Station as well as private contracted laboratories.
Advisories on all other waters in the rest of New York State still stand and remain unchanged. The NYS Department of Health website has a complete list of advisories organized by region and county.