State renews warnings about eating Hudson River fish

October 14, 2008 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

The state Health Department is holding public outreach meetings this month in communities along the Hudson River to continue cautioning residents not to eat or to limit their intake of fish caught in the river.

“The Hudson River looks a lot cleaner, but it still has contaminants in the water and river sediment,” said Manna Jo Greene, environmental director for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc.

These contaminants, such as toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), move through the food chain and accumulate in many species of Hudson River fish, she said on Monday.

One of the longstanding river fish consumption advisories is that no fish in the upper Hudson River from Hudson Falls to the Federal Dam in Troy should be eaten.

This stretch of the Hudson, contaminated by PCBs, is for catch and release fishing only, according to regulations enforced by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The health advisories then vary for the river south of Troy to New York City. Another key advisory is that women of childbearing age and children under 15 should eat no fish of any species from the Hudson downstream from the dam in Corinth, Saratoga County.

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., an environmental watchdog organization based in Poughkeepsie, did a survey of anglers in recent years. Greene said the survey showed that “a lot of” people catch fish in the river and cook and eat the fish and share them with family members, despite the fish advisories up and down the river.

The Hudson River Fish Advisory Outreach Project, which is sponsored by the state Health Department, is a multiyear program.

“The goal of the project is for all anglers and others who eat fish from the Hudson River to know and follow the New York State fish advisories,” said a statement from the Health Department.

The project includes the Hudson River from Hudson Falls in the north all the way downriver to the Battery in New York.

The advisory outreach project’s meeting for the Capital Region will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Citizens Bank Auditorium at 833 Broadway in Albany. Other meetings wi1ll be held over the next two weeks at four locations down river.

At the meetings, the Health Department will discuss the advisory program and seek partnerships with a variety of public and private organizations who want to educate the public about the dangers of eating some Hudson River fish.

The project will be offering small grants to community organizations, to encourage these groups to propose “innovative ideas that come from their understanding of local people and their customs,” the project statement says.

One of the things the fish advisory outreach project does is promote the public awareness of the health advisories by posting fish health advisory signs at major fishing access sites on the river.

The advisory project officials are reaching out to partner groups that might include commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, boating community representatives, local health officials, community group leaders and food pantry and community food networks.

Manna Jo Greene said some people eat fish from the Hudson more often than others for economic reasons. “Fish is an important part of their diet,” Greene said.

These subsistence anglers, who are often needy and may not speak English as a first language, need to understand the fish advisories. Greene said the advisories are listed in both English and Spanish.

For adults ­— excluding women of childbearing age — the Health Department suggests eating no more than one meal per month of certain fish. For example, in the Hudson from the Troy dam to the bridge at Catskill, no fish species should be eaten except alewife, blueback herring, rock bass and yellow perch. These fish should be eaten no more than one meal per month.

The American shad, which spends only a portion of its lifetime in the Hudson, can be eaten more often: a one-half pound fish meal per week can be consumed in this area between Troy and the Catskills, according to the state advisories.

Those interested in registering for the outreach meeting or being placed on the outreach partner list should call 518-402-7530 or e-mail: hrfa@health.state.ny.us.

By Lee Coleman
The Daily Gazette

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Entry filed under: Get Wet, Natural Waterfront, Region. Tags: , , , , , .

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