Posts Tagged ‘public health’

From July 22, 2012 to June 2, 2013 the FCEC Pier Outreach Evaluation team collected 670 surveys from anglers in the red zone extending from Seal Beach Pier to Santa Monica Pier. The objective was to investigate the differences between anglers who received outreach with the local fish contamination information from Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Heal the Bay compared to anglers who did not receive outreach.

Although respondents across the entire sample reflected a high level of awareness (49% or higher) of Do Not Consume (DNC) fish, FCEC was particularly interested in how our outreach efforts, specifically, impacted the level of contamination awareness. After careful evaluation of the data, pier anglers who received outreach did in fact show a significantly greater awareness of fish contamination across the five DNC fish species compared to anglers who did not. For those who received outreach, the difference of greater awareness ranged from 13% – 19% per DNC fish species.

In addition to higher awareness levels to those who had received outreach, we wanted to evaluate the pier angler’s intentions with the DNC fish. Results for intentions to throw back DNC fish and to [not] give DNC fish to family or friends provided further evidence that anglers who did receive outreach were more likely to do the desired outcome compared to those who did not receive outreach. For the full report, click here.

Given the Pier Outreach Evaluation results, FCEC’s pier outreach has proved to be effective in protecting the public from health risks of consuming local contaminated fish. Take a look at FCEC’s Pier Outreach Team in action informing pier anglers of the local fish contamination throughout the year by taking a look at the photo slideshow below!

Anglers can finally catch a break! At least from all the questions the EPA Consumption Study team has been grilling them on over the past year. The study, which started February 2012, recently ended this January 2013. The survey team surveyed Southern California anglers from Seal Beach to Santa Monica in order to understand their consumption habits of eating certain types of local contaminated fish, such as white croaker, barracuda, topsmelt, barred sand bass and black croaker.

During the yearlong study, the survey team learned quite a bit about the local anglers. For example, they found that the angler community in Southern California is comprised of a socially diverse group of men and women that speak a range of different languages. Despite coming from various backgrounds, their respect for one another and the sport is mightily admirable.

At first the survey team may have looked like they were a fish out of water, but they quickly got the hang of reeling in anglers and building a trusting relationship with them.

“Some anglers may appear to be rough around the edges, but they’re a friendly bunch once you get to know them. Before we knew it, we were sharing stories and cracking jokes with anglers about turd rollers [more commonly known as sand bass].” – Surveyor, Lucia Phan

“During the winter months, only the seasoned anglers were out and it was nice to see that we remembered each other.” – Surveyor, Thuy Nghiem

The study was a mutual learning experience for anglers and the survey team.

“By having conversations with anglers, we became aware of how fishing has changed over the years and why anglers are skeptical of us ‘outsiders.’ Many longtime anglers reported that catching fish now is not as easy as it used to be a decade ago, or even a few years ago. ” – Surveyor, Alben Phung

According to some anglers, the days of catching barracuda and buckets of corbina right off the pier are long gone. Dwindling fish populations, higher regulations, and an influx of outreach have made anglers more conscious of the situation. But all in all, anglers are still out there just to have a good time. As anglers shared their experiences and concerns about the future of fishing, a conclusion can be made: Make Protecting Fishin’ Our Mission!

Watch the EPA Consumption Study survey team in action and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

 

 

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.

 

In smaller markets across Southern California, confusion and trickery can sometimes result in the sale of contaminated white croaker to both merchants and consumers. Looking out for the community means not only going where we catch our fish, but also where we buy them. To prevent the sale of contaminated white croaker in local markets, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and local health inspectors visit hundreds of local vendors every year to inspect their products and ensure that the fish sold there are purchased from approved sources, such as licensed fish wholesalers, distributors or commercial fishermen. Since 2008, our FCEC Enforcement Program has not found contaminated white croaker sold in markets.

The LA County Public Health Department inspects 30 markets twice a year, Orange County 12 markets monthly, and Long Beach inspects 15 markets, 3 restaurants and 1 wholesaler 4 times a year. In addition to inspections, CDFG representatives and health inspectors use our FCEC materials to educate sellers on the local fish contamination issues that affect them and their customers.

See our Enforcement Program team at work in the images below!

How many different types of fish would you be able to identify in a blind taste test? While it may sound like an episode of Man V. Food, this culinary challenge is actually a serious financial and health concern for the FDA, restaurateurs and you!

Once a catch has been cut, processed, cooked and served, it can be difficult for even the most trained eye—and sometimes palette—to be able to identify the species. For some unscrupulous marketplace sellers this can lead to “seafood substitution,” where one type of fish, usually of poorer quality, is mislabeled and sold as a premium product. This practice, a violation of federal law, not only cheats buyers and diners out of the product they are expecting but can also expose them to toxins found in lower grade fish species. In an even sadder turn, endangered species can be passed off as commercial catches.

To face this seafood mislabeling issue, The Barcode of Life has developed a new technology, officially approved by the FDA this Fall, that is able to scan a fish protein and identify it by comparing short strings of DNA just like a grocery store checkout scanner reads a barcode! Since 2003, The Barcode of Life, has built up a DNA database of more than 167,000 species and hopes to have 5 million cataloged by 2015. This technology could be used to identify 500,000 species and prevent mislabeling. That means when your date orders the lobster, you won’t be paying for monkfish, or even worse, buying monkfish and actually eating toxic pufferfish which caused several people to become sick in 2007. Since seafood is one of the most highly traded commodities in the world, there is a big movement to make the DNA barcoding of seafood a standard industry practice. The more widely applied this technology becomes consumers can enjoy their fish without wondering what that fish actually is.

Have you ever had a seafood experience that was a bit too fishy for your taste? If you have, tell us about it and let others know about this issue!

 

*Photo courtesy of Greenpeace.