New Reminders on the Hazards of Locally Caught Fish

July 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm Leave a comment

Where did the missing fish warning signs go?

Two years ago, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene asked the the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to install signs at waterfront piers and parks, warning city residents that consuming local fish might pose health hazards to some people.

But over time, some of those signs disappeared, as officials learned after The Daily News reported this week that increasing numbers of poor people are turning to locally caught fish for sustenance.

“It was brought to our attention that some of the signs may be missing, so yesterday I directed that 250 new signs be put up,” the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I asked why the signs were disappearing. It was suggested by one fisherman that they were the perfect size and surface to cut bait on. But that’s speculation.”

The new signs — which Mr. Benepe said come at a fairly “minimal cost,” about $50 per sign for fabrication and installation — are being installed in all five boroughs. (See below for the complete list.)

In 2007, the City Council held a hearing on the health risks associated with locally caught seafood. An article in The New York Times in 2006 about the problem of people eating fish caught in the Hudson River cited research by Anne L. Golden, an epidemiologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who noted that most anglers in her studies — including those who never eat local fish — shared their catches with family, friends and acquaintances.

Significantly, nearly 40 percent said they gave locally caught fish to women of childbearing age — a group considered at particular risk to potential hazards in seafood.

Mr. Benepe said on Thursday that he deferred to the health department as to the safety of locally caught fish, but he added:

As long as there have been parks, there have been people fishing from them. They tend to be a hardy breed. They fish throughout the year. You don’t know whether they’re doing it for sport or consumption, but it’s a valid concern the health department has, and to the extent we can help them get the message out, we’re doing that.

As for the possible problem of people using signs to cut bait, that’s another matter. Mr. Benepe said his department had installed bait-cutting tables in fishing piers, “so that people don’t use wooden rails, for example.”

The locations at which the new warning signs are being installed follow.

In the Bronx: Tiffany Pier, Barretto Point Park, Hunts Point/Riverside Park, Cement Plant, Garrison Park, Bridge Park, Soundview Park, Clason Point Park, Pugsley Creek, Ferry Point Park, Orchard Beach, Pelham Bay Park.
In Brooklyn: Coney Island Steeplechase Pier, Valentino Pier, 69th Street Pier (Bay Ridge), Shore Road Bike Path, Avenue U and Burnett Street (Marine Park), Kaiser Park.
In Manhattan: East River Park Promenade, Riverside Park, Battery Park, Fort Washington Park, Inwood Hill Park.
In Queens: Hallets Cove, Captain Tilly Park, Bayswater Park, Dubos Point, Beach 14th Street (Rockaway), Flushing Meadows Corona Park (east and west parking lots), Baisley Pond Park, Roy Wilkins Park, Springfield Park, Brookville Park, Oakland Lake, Crocheron Park, Bowne Park, Kissena Park, MacNeil Park, Francis Lewis Park.
On Staten Island: Willowbrook Park, Brady’s Pond, Midland Fishing Pier, South Midland, Wolfe’s Pond Park, Lemon Creek, Crescent Beach, New Dorp Park, Seaside Nature Center, Conference House.

By Sewell Chan

New York Times

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Entry filed under: Bronx, Brooklyn, Dive In, Manhattan, Public Waterfront, Queens, Staten Island. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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