Posts Tagged ‘fish contamination’

What do you do when you have a big appetite for fish? Since nowadays most community members go fishing just for recreation, the market is typically the spot where folks go for their catch of the day. We developed a brochure in collaboration with our partners to widen outreach efforts to the local markets, since we did not have outreach materials tailored specifically for markets and restaurants. Designed to be a brochure and a poster, the main goal of developing the piece was to demonstrate the local fish contamination information in an easy and relatable way. In doing so, the brochure educates the market staff and many community members visiting these markets on a daily basis. The brochure includes information on health risks from eating white croaker which is one of the 5 local Do Not Consume fish, as well as provides clear instructions for market operators to buy only from approved sources and report illegal or suspicious vendors. Audiences have found the material to be easy to understand, engaging and simple. A local market employee was quoted saying the brochure was like “telling a story” as opposed to just plain information.

Currently, the brochure is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. It is distributed by Orange County Health Care Agency, Long Beach Bureau of Environmental Health and California Department of Fish and Wildlife in their market outreach efforts.

Have you seen the FCEC fish market brochure? Click here to check out a digital copy!

 

When talking to anglers, the first question a group like the EPA might ask is, “what are you catching?” While this is a great thing to know from an environmental perspective, when it comes to an angler’s health a more important follow-up question is “What are you eating?” and further, “How are you eating them?” These questions haven’t been asked seriously in nearly 20 years! Since the consumption of certain fish species in the Palos Verdes Shelf area can be a threat to public health, we have begun implementing a Consumption Study program. Judy Huang, EPA Program Manager, explains one of the most important outcomes of the consumption study is “to inform the public of risks associated from eating certain seafood originating from the Palos Verdes Shelf and be able to use this information as a tool to make informed choices about the food they cook and eat.”

Over the course of the study (February 2012 – January 2013), six survey administrators are collecting stories from the diverse Southern California population between Santa Monica and Seal Beach in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. For comprehensive data, the surveyors interview anglers one-on-one across all modes of fishing: Piers, jetties, beaches, intertidal zones, private boats, and fishing charters, over the course of a year to gather data during all seasons. Weekdays and weekends, rain or shine and with clipboards and educational props such as fish models in hand, our surveyors ask anglers questions about their fishing experience, knowledge of the DDT contamination off the PV Shelf and whether they have seen posted contamination warnings. If an angler has fish in his bucket, the surveyors ask to examine the fish along with asking a series of questions about the consumption of those particular fish.

The information being gathered is crucial for us to best mitigate the risks to anglers from contaminated catches. The better we understand what seafood consumption habits currently are, and how well tactics have worked over the past 20 years, a more informed decision can be made about what should be adjusted in the future to create a healthier fishing experience for everyone.

What kinds of fish do you eat? And how do you prepare it? We’d love to know!

The best anglers fish responsibly—for their own health and for the environment’s. That’s why, when it comes to fish, any can be fun to catch, but not all are a good idea to keep. The danger is not because of recreational anglers. More often the biggest threats to individual fish species or the ocean’s ecosystem as a whole come from large scale commercial and industrial practices. Still, everyday anglers can make a big impact with small, but smart decisions.

Probably the best thing you can do as an angler to protect the ocean, and fishing, for yourself, your kids and beyond is to learn about which marine species are the most threatened. Some are valuable catches, such as the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, that are in serious danger of extinction! So while you can’t always control what you catch, you can choose what to release. If you reel in an endangered species, take a picture then put the fish back in the water because, seriously, it will last longer.

The same caution should apply when going out to eat seafood. Even if you’re not catching the fish yourself, supporting sustainable seafood can help to ease the pressure on fish populations. Whether you’re placing an order, or doing the cooking, consider alternatives and substitutes that will give you the flavor you’re looking for tonight and ensure that it will be there tomorrow. Luckily for the West Coast, many of our local species from California to Alaska have stronger numbers than their Atlantic counterparts. That means less hard choices on the water and fresher options at the table.

But it’s also important to make choices for your own heath as well. Some seafood options may have strong populations in the wild, but they are exposed to toxics that they absorb from their environment. Large roaming predators like sharks can have extremely high levels of mercury built up from eating smaller species. Smaller fish can be highly impacted based on their surroundings. So, it’s always a great idea to know where your fish is caught and how it is prepared to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals. You might not feel the effects right away, but consuming contaminated fish can lead to bigger health risks down the road.

There’s no denying the love anglers have for catching fish, and that we all have for eating them. That’s why it’s important to learn about which fish we should avoid, to protect both the fish and ourselves, to ensure delicious meals, to secure a fun hobby and to keep a healthy environment for generations to come.

 

*Photo courtesy of Rodale.

 

FCEC has reached a lot of anglers over the years. What is “a lot” you ask? During 2009-2011 FCEC and our partners have reached out to over 15,400 anglers, conducting a total of 1,979 surveys during this stretch of time. As such, we’ve heard a lot of stories and learned a lot about the folks that frequently fish at our local piers. We appreciate these anglers and the knowledge and experiences they share with us.

Our outreach team has seen these anglers endure heavy winds to catch fish at Belmont pier in Long Beach, talk about cool shark sightings and locate schools of surfperch under the Santa Monica Pier. Frankie Orrala of Heal the Bay even shared his insights in a recent interview that we recommend you check out.

Besides catching fish at the local piers and sighting seals and sharks, anglers have also been interested in our  FCEC Angler Tip Cards, and not just because they have a nifty ruler to measure their fish with! Due to the efforts of the Angler Outreach Team, results have shown a reduced amount of reported Do Not Consume fish consumption and an increase of anglers aware of the contamination. Heal the Bay and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Angler Outreach Team members have been doing fantastic work to protect public health and educate folks about local fish contamination, and we are proud of their efforts!

Check out some photos of the Angler Outreach Team in action over 2011. Happy New Year!