Big fish weigh in
Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand blast lack of info on toxins of fish New York’s senators on Monday blasted the lack of health warnings that have left many New Yorkers unknowingly eating dangerously contaminated fish.
After the Daily News reported that some cash-strapped New Yorkers are turning to city waterways for food, Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to investigate whether anglers get enough warnings about cancer-causing PCBs and mercury in fish.
“This is a creeping health crisis as more and more New Yorkers are fishing just to survive,” Schumer said. “New Yorkers must be warned about the dangers of consuming fish caught in New York City’s rivers.”
State health advisories say kids and women of child-bearing age shouldn’t eat any fish caught in local waters. Other adults should eat just one meal a month of fish such as striped bass and bluefish.
The News visited 18 fishing piers in city, state, and federal parks around the city and found warning signs posted at only one.
The state Health Department prints 36,000 pamphlets a year with the warnings, but The News found few park ranger stations or clinics had the material.
“It is a moral failure that New York families are turning to local waterways for food during this economic recession and are not being properly warned about the health risks,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said.
Health Department spokeswoman Claire Pospisil said officials plan to step up efforts to publicize the fish advisories, but she couldn’t offer any specifics.
“We’re going to be looking at how we can reach out to more people,” she said.
Pospisil said the state also relies on other agencies to post signs at parks and piers warning about the fish. City Parks Department officials insisted they had installed “hundreds” of warning signs. The News found only one at Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island.
Mayor Bloomberg said the city might post more signs, but added “Common sense says that you should be careful in eating fish from our local rivers…There’s just so much coastline, you can’t put signs everyplace.”
By Erin Durkin, With Elizabeth Hays and Adam Lisberg