Archive for the ‘EPA Messages’ Category

Carmen WhiteFCEC has made great progress in reaching out to communities about fish contamination during these last few months.  I’m excited to share our progress with all of you.  We’ve posted new signs at local fishing spots, created a new map on the FCEC website and launched a new contest!

The posting of our new fish advisory signs in fishing areas across Los Angeles, Long Beach and Seal Beach is an amazing accomplishment.  I have seen this project develop from an idea to execution and the level of collaboration has been integral to its success.  These signs will be permanent reminders to anglers not to consume the five fish, caught from Santa Monica Pier to Seal Beach Pier, that are highly contaminated.

I also invite you to check out the new interactive map on our website; it is a really easy way of determining if the fish advisory applies to a fishing area.  The map marks local environmental/community organizations and bait and tackle shops, too!

If you are looking to share fish contamination information with your community, the article about FCEC’s Booth in a Box will interest you.  Free educational materials in multiple languages are yours—all you need to do is distribute them at your community event.

Did you know that there is a history of mislabeling in the seafood industry?  Read this eye-opening article on seafood mislabeling to make sure you’re eating the fish you intended to eat.

Finally, there is a new contest currently running on our blog.  You could win a free fishing trip for two if you can identify the fish on our slide show!  Not a bad way to enjoy summer!

I hope this e-Newsletter issue helps you learn more about the local fish contamination.  Help us to spread this information by sharing these stories with others.

If you have any questions, the FCEC team is always happy to help.  Leave a comment in this post or email



Carmen White


I’m happy to introduce the 10th issue of our e-newsletter!

This issue has a lot of great stories by our FCEC team. I’m also pleased to report that the issue comes on the heels of a very successful Partners’ Meeting held in late January where nearly 30 partners gathered at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health offices (big thank you to Marita) to discuss the program’s achievements and get updates from each other on spreading the word on fish contamination in their respective communities.

This issue is packed with this very topic – fish contamination – including what fish to avoid and what fish is safe to eat when prepared properly and consumed in moderation.

We also talk about the root causes of our fish advisories, dating back to the 1940s and 1980s. We discuss how manufacturing plants in Los Angeles released chemicals called DDT and PCBs into the sewer system and led to the fish advisories you see today.

For instance, did you know that topsmelt caught in the Palos Verdes Shelf in Southern California is highly contaminated and should not be consumed? If you’d like to know how to identify this contaminated fish, check out our video on how to do this.

While there are many locally-caught fish species such as white croaker and topsmelt mentioned above that should not be consumed, there are plenty of fish that are ok to eat. However, these fish should still be consumed about once or twice a week and prepared as fillets without the skins. Here is a webpage that lists all the fish that are safe to eat with those restrictions.

Finally, if you’d like to do good and feel good by eating seafood that’s sustainable, Whole Foods now has a handy labeling system that allows you to see the various sustainability levels of different seafood. After all, a smart consumer is a well-informed consumer.

I hope you’ll enjoy our articles and as always, we’d love to hear what you think so let us know!



Carmen White


2010 was a remarkable year for the Fish Consumption Education Collaborative, known as FCEC. We saw a large increase in our outreach efforts. We engaged our community at local piers, clubs and community organizations more than in any previous year. We attended numerous events where we spoke directly to community members about fish contamination in the area.

We also saw a few significant changes these past twelve months. Sharon Lin, who led the FCEC program for several years, moved on to other endeavors within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. FCEC benefited from her vision and leadership. Sharon was instrumental in creating the foundation for the work we will continue to expand upon.

In case you were wondering, I’m her replacement. I joined the EPA in 1997, working in the Community Involvement Office. It is my hope that my experience there and my various other roles will aid FCEC in its educational and community outreach. Additionally, I’m familiar with the issues around the Palos Verdes Shelf since I’ve been working on the Shelf’s cleanup plans since 2004.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you! We recently asked you what you thought of our newsletters and blog posts. Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts.

Here are a few things we learned from the survey. Almost half of the respondents visit our blog monthly. Our newsletter readers also prefer informative videos and posts and like reading about fish consumption information. As a result, you can expect more of what you like! So why not start with our current newsletter that serves up exactly that?

First, check out an interview with Dave Anderson who works with our partner, Seafood For the Future – who talks about the relationship between what we eat and ocean sustainability. We also have a video on what chef and author Barton Seaver dubs “Restorative Seafood” and how to eat with sustainability in mind.

Lastly, we have a short video clip with fish enthusiasts from the Cerritos Rod & Gun Club, where they discuss what they learned about fish contamination at one of their club meetings.

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!


Carmen White

As some of you know, I will be going on a six month detail in the EPA Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) environmental justice office. I am excited about the new career opportunity. My passion in environmental justice and social justice has grown in the past 8 years during my work on the Palos Verdes Shelf (PV Shelf) superfund project.  Naturally, my passion has led me to this new opportunity.  

In 2002, when I first became the project manager for the PV Shelf project, we were grappling with a real risk exposure and public health problem facing our communities.  After my first meeting with the project stakeholders, James Alamillo with Heal the Bay approached me and told me this is an environmental justice (EJ) project. He asked me “what is this administration’s plan to protect the EJ community?”  I didn’t have an answer for him.  

When I got back to my office, I started reading up on environmental justice and took a fundamentals of EJ training offered at EPA.  As an immigrant who came to this country at the age of 18 and someone who is always interested in the history of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., I got it immediately.   The EJ communities are not faceless people to me; instead, they are people like me.  This enlightenment put a new resolution in my commitment to my work.  

Many of you know this project has been so innovative in linking scientific risk reduction measures with community outreach work.  This project is built on the solid foundation of “meaningful involvement” and “equal and fair treatment” of all people. We were the first EPA Superfund project that introduced the strategic planning tool with a neutral facilitator and have been consistently using this tool to guide our program implementation over the past six years.  We were the first and only Superfund project that has brought environmental justice training to the community, local and state agency partners.   We’ve made decisions together. We worked to get our local and state governmental agencies involved in this mission of protecting people who are the most vulnerable, most in need of our help and are often voiceless.  This project is not just a Superfund site or a job to me, I found my calling in this work.

James Alamillo and I talked again recently.  He asked me how I felt about leaving this project, “Sharon’s baby” in his words.  I think of this change as a short break.  I am taking the knowledge and experience of what I have learned from all of you and applying it to a broader program.  I encourage you to continue sharing with your constituencies this incredible project that we have built collectively. I will keep in touch and update you on my new job.  See you in 2011.  

The core of the FCEC program is fishing. The sport runs deep in Southern California culture and history, indeed for some in our greater community it is far more than a sport, it’s a necessity to survive. Fishing is dear to my heart as my husband often takes our young children fishing on the weekends. It is indeed a great outdoors experience for all people.

In this issue of the Fall FCEC newsletter we celebrate our local fishermen. It is these folks that our program seeks to reach, and it is these individuals that we hope will spread the word further about fish contamination in our region.

First we have two informative videos to share with you. Our first is an instructional video on how to properly prepare your local catch. Knowing which parts of the fish are safest to consume could have lasting positive health impacts on those who eat these fish. The second video you can view here is from a sport fishing angler at the Redondo Beach Rod & Gun Club. Check out what he has to say about the information we shared with him!

In this issue of the FCEC newsletter you can also read about our community education work with team member Frankie Orrala of Heal the Bay. Also, in recognition of the anglers that make up the majority of our outreach and the vibrant fishing culture in our region, we also have a recap of Fisherman Appreciation Day, which was held in late July.

Lastly, if you haven’t had a chance to check out our blog since the last issue, I hope you will do so! Every week we post new articles that are both educational and practical. We post fish recipes, interviews and upcoming events! There is something for everyone.

Be sure to let us know what you think. Your feedback is greatly appreciated as it helps shape the direction of our work. How do you leave feedback you ask? It’s simple: just post a comment on the article that interests you the most. We’ll be sure to reply back.

Thanks again for reading. Here’s to the fishing community that makes FCEC so relevant and vibrant. So grab your pole and hit your local pier!


Sharon Lin

EPA Region 9
Remedial Project Manager