Anglers advised to review fish consumption guidelines as season opens
MADISON — As anglers across the state prepare their rods, reels, and tackle boxes for the much-anticipated fishing opener this weekend, it is important that they also brush up on fish consumption guidelines to protect the health of their families.
“With mercury advisories in waters across the state, it’s important for anglers to review fish consumption guidelines before enjoying the season’s first catch with their families,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. “It’s a sad fact that we must question the safety of eating fish in a state with such a rich fishing tradition.”
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) currently lists every inland body of water in Wisconsin under fish consumption advisories as a result of mercury contamination; 153 waters are so contaminated that they receive special guidelines. Chronic exposure to mercury results in memory loss, speech difficulties, troubles with vision, and cardiovascular problems in adults. Children and the unborn exposed to mercury can face neurological damage that impairs development, leads to low intelligence and inhibits school performance.
“Consuming unsafe amounts of mercury-laden fish can have devastating consequences, especially for our most vulnerable residents,” said Reopelle. “We estimate that between 5,000 and 9,000 children born in Wisconsin every year are at risk of having lower IQs and reduced memory as a result of mercury consumption.”
Mercury enters Wisconsin waters from coal plant pollution or from household and industrial products such as old thermostat switches. A law passed in 2008 will help substantially reduce mercury pollution derived from coal plants, and residents can help protect our waters by properly recycling old mercury thermostats and thermometers.
“With Wisconsin’s mercury rules and proper recycling of old mercury products, we can all look forward to a future of safer waters,” said Reopelle. “Unfortunately, anglers must remember to review fish consumption guidelines this season and for the near future.”