JERSEY AND DELAWARE ISSUE FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES TO
ASSIST THE PUBLIC IN BOTH STATES
(04/14) TRENTON - The
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department
of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today issued revised
fish consumption advisories for
waters of the Delaware Estuary which include the Delaware
River downstream of the Pennsylvania border and Delaware
Bay - waters shared by both states.
"The waters of the Delaware Bay and
estuary provide excellent opportunities for recreational
fishing and enjoyment," said DEP Commissioner Bradley
M. Campbell. "Different and sometimes conflicting advisories
used in shared waters often confuse the public. Providing
a common message to the fishing public in both states will
help people make informed choices about the fish they eat."
The consistent advisories result from meetings
between the states, as well as data collection and agreement
on technical issues. The advisories recommend limiting consumption
of certain fish by the general population. However, both
states recommend that high-risk consumers (women of childbearing
age and children) not consume any of these fish from these
"The nutritional and health benefits
of eating fish are well established, and these advisories
can help people make better choices of the fish to consume,"
said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R.
Lacy, M.D. "These shared advisories will help the public
make informed decisions concerning consumption of recreational
fish, as well as help reduce exposure to contaminants."
"This cooperative effort underscores
both Delaware and New Jersey's commitment to inform and
protect public health while continuing to encourage the
public to enjoy the tremendous recreational opportunities
that the Delaware Estuary offers," said Delaware Department
of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary
John A. Hughes. Added Hughes, "Our ultimate goal is
to clean up these waters so that we no longer need fish
Tom Fote of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association
added "This is great news for recreational anglers,
one message to those fishing and enjoying the resources
of the Delaware Estuary. One common message in shared waters
is a more effective strategy to inform the public."
There are numerous benefits for establishing
consistent advisories in New Jersey's shared waters, especially
for a large water body such as Delaware Bay. These include
a more effective and concise public message, coordinated
state outreach efforts, increased public comprehension,
and most importantly increased protection of public health
from the bioaccumulative contaminants found in elevated
levels in some local fish species.
Consumption advisories are being issued
for the Delaware River from the Pennsylvania border near
Marcus Hook to the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) Canal,
and from the C&D Canal to the mouth of the Delaware
Bay. Advisories for the Delaware River above the C&D
Canal remain the same for both states and recommend that
the public not eat any finfish from this area. Advisories
for the section downstream of the C&D Canal including
the entire Delaware Bay include striped bass, bluefish,
white perch, American eel, channel catfish and white catfish.
The advisory is to eat no more than one meal per year of
these fish including small bluefish. For large bluefish
(larger than 6 lbs. or 24 inches) the advisory is "do
not eat". Women of childbearing age and children should
not consume any of these fish from these waters.
Establishing consistent advisories in shared
waters is also a key goal of the Delaware Estuary Program's
Management Plan. In December 2003, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency established an environmental plan to reduce
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) released along an 85-mile
segment of the Delaware River from Trenton downstream to
the head of the Delaware Bay, near Liston Point, Delaware.
The advisories are based on contaminants
found in fish including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
mercury, chlorinated pesticides and dioxin. Long-term exposure
to PCBs has been shown to cause a number of serious health
effects, including impacts on the nervous system of developing
fetuses, the immune system and the reproductive system.
PCBs are also considered a probable human carcinogen.
Above certain levels, mercury can damage
the nervous system, particularly in unborn and young children,
resulting in learning and developmental delays. Dioxin produces
a number of effects in animal testing, including suppression
of the immune system, impaired reproduction, birth defects
in some species tested, a skin condition called chloracne,
alterations in liver function, and cancer.
The best way to reduce exposure to contaminants
in fish is to learn what fish species are affected and either
limit or avoid consumption. However, if you choose to eat
those species under advisories, there are steps you can
take to reduce your exposure. Contaminants tend to concentrate
in the fatty tissue of the fish you catch. Proper cleaning
and cooking techniques, which remove some of the fat from
the fish, can significantly reduce levels of PCBs, dioxins
and other organic chemicals. Please note, however, that
these techniques will not reduce or remove unsafe levels
of mercury from these fish.
Delaware and New Jersey plan to continue
coordination, communication and data sharing to ensure consistent
advice is available to the public. The DEP and the DHSS
through the interagency Toxics in Biota Committee continue
to work with other adjacent states to develop messages for
the public and to establish advisory consistency for affected
fish in shared waters.
In addition to the updated Delaware Estuary
fish consumption advisories, the DEP last year issued revised
PCB advisories, and in 2002 issued advisories warning people
about unsafe mercury levels found in 21 species of freshwater
fish from water bodies around the state.
Copies of the advisories that provide consumption
recommendations for fish in particular regions and waterways
throughout the state are available on the DEP website.
Delaware's advisories are available on
the DNREC website.