ADPH advises on consumption of fish in Alabama during fishing season

Published 7:04 am Monday, July 24, 2023

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The Alabama Department of Public Health released a Fish Consumption Advisory recently in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Tennessee Vally Authority.

Many Dallas County citizens are fishing with the sun being out and the lines getting bites.

The advisory cautions fishing on the proper way to consume fish and how much fish someone should in certain areas in the state.

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The main chemicals that can contaminate fish in Alabama are Mercury, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and Perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFOS). In the Advisory there are three places that the Alabama Department of Public Health caution people when they fish. The first place is part of the  Cahaba River embayment, approximately 0.5 miles upstream of the lake confluence. There are two species of fish in this part of the river according to the advisory. Fishers can find Largemouth and Spotted Bass. The advisory is for people to only eat 2 meals/ month due to Mercury. The ADPH says there are several things that people need to know when it comes to consuming fish that has been contaminated with Mercury. • Too much consumption of fish with high levels of mercury may lead to heart disease in adults. • Health effects of mercury in adults can usually be corrected if a person stops eating fish that contain high levels of mercury. •

If you are concerned about the amount of mercury in your body, see your doctor. Another place for people to enjoy some fishing is Dannelly Reservoir Approximately 7.5 miles upstream of AL Hwy 41. Alabama River miles 214.9-216.9.

All the species of fish Alabama has to offer are in the Reservoir and there are no restrictions for consumption. The last place in Dallas County that is mentioned is Four Mile/Six Mile Creek upstream of the confluence with the Alabama River, near Selma. All the species of fish are available again but the advisory for this area is 1 meal/month due to Mercury.

The ADPH said that there are at-risk groups who should follow some additional advice when it comes to eating certain fish in the state.

• Do NOT eat any king mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish.

• Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

• Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and

shellfish that are lower in mercury.

• Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friendsin local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.

• Follow the recommendations listed above when feeding fish and shellfish to young children, but serve smaller portions.

Those who fall under the At-risk category according to the ADPH are babies, children under the age of 14, women who are nursing, women who are pregnant, and women who plan to become pregnant. The advisory pamphlet explains why these groups are considered at-risk.

• Developing bodies, such as infants and small children, are at a greater risk  since their brains and nervous systems are still forming.

• The body naturally removes small amounts of contaminants, like mercury,but contaminants can build up in the body if too much is consumed.

• Health problems can occur when there are too many harmful chemicals in the body.

With everyone getting out and enjoying the weather and fishing the ADPH made sure that they made it clear to everyone that the advisory booklet did not mean the waters in Alabama were unsafe.

“The recommendation of a fish consumption advisory does not necessarily mean that the waters under advisory are unsafe for recreation. Fish bioaccumulate contaminants in their tissues to concentrations that are sometimes hundreds to thousands of times greater than the concentration of the contaminant in the waters they inhabit. Activities such as swimming, boating, or catch-and-release fishing in waters that have fish consumption advisories are considered to be safe,” the ADPH said in the advisory pamphlet.