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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Public Health, Fish and Wildlife Release Advisories for Ohio River Fish Consumption

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, July 29, 2008  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Fisher, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3325 and 4012  


The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources today issued fish consumption advisories for the Ohio River.

These advisories are intended to inform the public about the possible risks of eating unrestricted amounts of some fish from the Ohio River. 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. 

“Women of childbearing age, children and people who consume a lot of fish in 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.”

Due to recent tissue samplings of sauger and catfish, the advisory for the Upper Reach of the Ohio River (mouth of the Big Sandy River to Markland Dam) is being modified to one meal per month for the general population and six meals per year for special or sensitive populations. Advisories for the Middle Reach (Markland Dam to Cannelton Dam) and the Lower Reach (Cannelton Dam to Mississippi River) remain unchanged from last year’s advisory.

“Fish are fun to catch, and are a nutritious, low-fat food,” said Benjy Kinman, director of fisheries with the Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Our role is to educate the public about recommended amounts of certain fish they should consume so everyone can make informed decisions.”

The reporting system used by DPH and Fish and Wildlife provides advisories for the general population and a special population, which includes pregnant women, nursing mothers and their infants, and children. Women who may be or plan to become pregnant should also consider the special population advice.

The following are consumption precautions for various tested species in three areas (upper, middle and lower) of the Ohio River bordering Kentucky. In general, if a species is not listed, this does not necessarily mean these other fish species are risk-free to consumers. Rather, it means there is no data available for that particular species.

Upper Reach (Mouth of Big Sandy to Markland Dam )
Species General Population Special Population

Paddlefish (and eggs) 6 meals / year No consumption
Carp 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Channel catfish
(Greater than (>) 21”)             6 meals / year No consumption
Channel catfish
(Less than (<) 21”)                 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Smallmouth buffalo 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
White bass 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Drum 1 meal / month 6 meals/ year
White crappie Unlimited 1 meal / week
Hybrid striped bass 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
*Sauger 1 meal / week 1 meal / month
*Flathead catfish 1 meal / week 1 meal / month
Black basses (largemouth, etc.) 1 meal / week 1 meal / month


Middle Reach (Markland Dam to Cannelton Dam)
Species General Population            Special Population
 

Paddlefish (and eggs) 6 meals / year No consumption
Channel catfish >21” 6 meals / year No consumption
Channel catfish <21” 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Carp 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Hybrid striped bass 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
White bass 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Drum 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Sauger 1 meal / week 1 meal / month
Black basses 1 meal / week 1 meal / month
Flathead catfish 1 meal / week 1 meal / month

Lower Reach (Cannelton Dam to Mississippi River)
Species General Population            Special Population
 

Paddlefish (and eggs) 6 meals / year No consumption
Channel catfish 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Carp 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Blue catfish >14” 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Blue catfish <14” 1 meal / week 1 meal / month
Drum 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Hybrid striped bass 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Sauger 1 meal / week 1 meal / month
White bass 1 meal / month 6 meals / year
Black basses
(largemouth, spotted)           1 meal / week 1 meal / month
White crappie Unlimited 1 meal / week
Bigmouth buffalo l meal / week 1 meal / month

In April 2000, a statewide mercury advisory was issued for all freshwater fish from Kentucky waters, including the Ohio River. Women of childbearing age and children 6 years and younger should eat no more than one meal per week of any freshwater fish.

DPH also reminds consumers that proper cleaning, skinning, trimming and cooking can reduce contaminant levels in the fish. Eat only skinless, boneless fillets with as much fat as possible removed. Do not eat the skin, which can contain higher levels of fat. Eggs should be discarded. Roasting, baking or broiling has been found to reduce the levels of PCBs and chlordane more than other cooking methods.

“Cooking does not destroy the contaminants, nor does it lower their toxicity,” said Guy Delius, acting director for the public health protection and safety division in DPH. “The heat melts some of the fat in the fish, removing some of the contaminants at the same time, but do not eat or reuse the fat and juices that cook out of the fish. Also, remember that cooking fish will not reduce levels of mercury in fish.” 

 



 

Last Updated 7/29/2008