NEW JERSEY UPDATES FISH CONSUMPTION
(06/21) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental
Protection and the Department of Health and Senior Services today
updated existing fish consumption advisories to take into consideration
the health benefits associated with eating a variety of fish and
shellfish. Although seafood contains high quality protein, some
recreationally caught fish and crabs contain unsafe levels of dioxins,
PCBs and mercury.
"These latest advisories strike a balance between the benefits
and risks associated with eating locally caught fish and crabs,"
said DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. "The fact remains that
eating fish is smart and risk can be reduced if consumers follow
the guidance in the advisories."
In addition to balancing health benefits and risk, these advisories
will allow the public to better understand the recommendations and
make informed choices. The advisories cover all marine and estuarine
waters including Delaware Bay, and are consistent with the State
of Delaware's recommendations.
"Consistent advice for shared waters is essential to public
understanding," said John A. Hughes, Secretary of Delaware's
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. "We
are pleased to work with New Jersey to make sure the message for
the shared waters of the Delaware Estuary is consistent and clear
for all who enjoy the benefits of recreational fishing."
The updated advisories were prompted by the results of a DEP-commissioned
study by the Academy of Natural Sciences. Results indicate that
while PCB levels continue to decline in striped bass and bluefish
caught in New Jersey's ocean waters, they still exceed advisory
triggers. The results also confirm elevated dioxin levels in blue
crabs taken from the Passaic River/Newark Bay area. The advisories
contain new recommendations for weakfish, porgy, winter flounder
and lobster taken from certain waters.
"Residents should always be cognizant that environmental contaminants
can create health risks for people eating freshly caught seafood
in New Jersey," said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D.,
J.D. "However, by following the guidelines in our advisories
New Jerseyans can safely include fish and shellfish they've caught
as a part of their healthy diet."
The best way to reduce exposure to contaminants in fish is to learn
what fish species are affected and to 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. However, these techniques will not
reduce or remove unsafe levels of mercury from fish.
For all freshwater fish not listed, consumers should follow DEP's
General Freshwater Advisories, which recommend eating no more than
one meal per week for the general population and no more than one
meal a month for high-risk individuals. High-risk individuals include
pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant, nursing mothers,
infants and children.
The revised 2006 fish consumption advisories include statewide,
regional and water body specific advice, and a general advisory
for freshwater fish. The Academy of Natural Science data and the
updated advisories can be found online at: www.fishsmarteatsmartnj.org.