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Health and Family Services Cabinet
State Agencies Issue Fish Consumption Advisories for 2009

Press Release Date:  Friday, July 24, 2009  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Fisher, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3325 and 4012  

 The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), the Department for Environmental Protection and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources today issued fish consumption advisories for bodies of water in Kentucky.

These advisories are intended to inform the public about the possible risks of eating unrestricted amounts of some fish retrieved from Kentucky’s waterways. The advisories were issued due to elevated levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and mercury levels found in some species of fish sampled for these substances. 

“Pregnant women, women of childbearing age and children who consume fish as part of their diet are more susceptible to the ill effects of contaminants sometimes found in fish,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “For this reason, these individuals should follow the special population advisory.”

Many states are discovering elevated mercury levels in fish tissue and are issuing advisories to better inform the public of the potential risks of frequently eating fish associated with an advisory. The 2009 advisories for Kentucky remain unchanged from last year. In 2008, three additional bodies of water were added to the advisory list because of elevated mercury levels. They were:

− Lake Cumberland in Pulaski, Wayne, Russell and Clinton counties

− Guist Creek Lake in Shelby County

− Fish Lake in Ballard County

“This risk-based advisory system allows Kentuckian to have the information needed in making good nutrition decisions,” said Guy Delius, director of the division of public health protection and safety. “Fish are fun to catch, and many people now practice catch and release, which helps ensure our lakes and rivers have good populations of larger, higher quality fish. If you decide to keep and eat your catch, just keep in mind the frequency for consumption.”

“Fish are a nutritious, low-fat food and good for you when eaten in moderation,” said Ron Brooks, director of fisheries with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Cooking may reduce some contaminants in fish, but will not reduce mercury levels.”

The following are consumption precautions for various tested species in these bodies of water. If a species is not listed, this does not necessarily mean it is risk-free to consumers. Rather, it means data may not be available for that particular species.

Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland is approximately 47,680 acres and impounds the Cumberland River in south central Kentucky. This advisory is considered to be a lake-wide advisory and will include the waters from the confluence of Laurel River and Cumberland River to the Wolf Creek Dam on Lake Cumberland.


Fish Groups          Contaminant        General Population    Sensitive Population
Black Bass               Mercury              1 meal/month               6 meals/year
Crappie/Rock           Bass Mercury       1 meal/week              1 meal/month

Guist Creek Lake
Guist Creek Lake is approximately 321 acres and impounds Guist Creek and Tick Creek in Shelby County. This advisory is considered to be lakewide from the headwaters of the lake to the dam.

Fish Groups        Contaminant      General Population     Sensitive Population
Black Bass          Mercury             1 meal per month         6 meals per year

Fish Lake
Ballard Wildlife Management Areas, Fish Lake, is an approximately 30-acre natural lake in Ballard County. This advisory is considered to be lake-wide from the headwaters of the lake to the outflow of Shawnee Creek.

Fish Group      Contaminant           General Population            Sensitive Population
Black Bass         Mercury                1 meal per month                6 meals per year
Suckers/Carp     Mercury                 1 meal per month               6 meals per year

Green River Lake
Green River Lake is approximately 8,210 acres and impounds Robinson Creek and the Green River in Taylor and Adair counties. The current advisory for PCBs is lake-wide and lists channel catfish and common carp as “do not eat.” The advisory for both PCBs and mercury is considered lake-wide from the headwaters of the lake to the dam. Due to decreasing levels of PCBs in the Green River Lake, the advisory is modified from “do not eat” to one meal per month for the general population and six meals per year for the sensitive population. Channel Catfish are being removed from the PCB advisory.

Fish Group              Contaminant             General Population       Sensitive Population
Suckers/Carp            PCB                        1 meal per month            6 meals per year
Black Bass              Mercury                     1 meal per month            6 meals per year
Catfish/Drum           Mercury                     1 meal per month           6 meals per year

Knox Creek
There are approximately 7.8 miles of Knox Creek in Pike County. The headwaters of Knox Creek are located predominantly in Buchanan County, Va. Virginia issued a similar fish consumption advisory for its section of this creek. This fish consumption advisory will include all of Knox Creek from the Virginia-Kentucky state line to the Tug Fork River.

Fish Group              Contaminant(s)            General Population                Special Population
Black Bass                PCB, Mercury           1 meal per month                     6 meals per year
Crappie/Rock Bass     PCB, Mercury          1 meal per month                      6 meals per year
Catfish/Drum             PCB                         6  meals per year                     No Consumption
Flathead Catfish          PCB, Mercury         No Consumption                  No Consumption


Fishtrap Lake
Fishtrap Lake is approximately 1,100 acres and impounds the Levisa Fork River in Pike County. This advisory will include the Levisa Fork River from the Kentucky-Virginia state line to the dam on Fishtrap Lake. Virginia issued a similar fish consumption advisory for a portion of the Levisa Fork River in its state.

Fish Groups     Contaminant(s)* General Population  Special Population
Black Bass     PCB, Mercury 1 meal per week  1 meal per month
White Bass     PCB, Mercury     1 meal per month  6 meals per year
Catfish/Drum     PCB, Mercury 1 meal per month  6 meals per year
Suckers/Carp     PCB, Mercury 1 meal per month  6 meals per year
Flathead Catfish PCB, Mercury 1 meal per week  1 meal per month



Last Updated 7/24/2009