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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2012

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Donna Leusner (DHSS) (609) 984-7160

NEW JERSEY UPDATES RECREATIONAL FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES

(12/P45) TRENTON - As a public service, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health and Senior Services today reminded anglers to be aware of routine fish advisories that are in place for fish caught recreationally in New Jersey. These advisories allow members of the public to make informed choices about the fish they catch and eat.

While water quality in New Jersey continues to improve, past pollution can persist for many years in sediments and continue to accumulate in fish at or near the top of the aquatic food chain. As a result, some recreationally caught fish can contain mercury, PCBs and pesticides that may be unhealthy for children or some adults with certain health concerns.

The DEP recently updated its advisories to incorporate results of new sampling for lakes, ponds and reservoirs that flow into the Delaware River. This sampling round, the last in a five-region statewide cycle, resulted in fish advisories being posted at 14 new water bodies.

"Before heading out to go fishing, anglers should take a few minutes to review advisories in place for their favorite fishing spots so they can make good decisions about eating the fish they catch," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.

All states have fish consumption advisories. Many of the fish on New Jersey's advisory lists are typically caught and released without being consumed, but some people rely heavily on some of the species on the advisory lists as a food source.

"By following the guidelines in our advisories, the public can safely include fish and other seafood they've caught as a part of their healthy diet," said DHSS Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd.

The DEP and DHSS update fish consumption advisories regularly. The revised fish consumption advisories include statewide, regional and water body specific advice, and a general advisory for freshwater fish.

The DEP and DHSS advise all anglers to get the latest advisories for the specific water body they fish by visiting www.fishsmarteatsmartnj.org.

For much of the population, the majority of advisories can range from no restrictions to a recommendation to limit consumption to one meal per week. For the high risk population - which includes pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant, nursing mothers, infants and children - advisories can range from no more than one meal per week to do not eat.

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.

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 and waters not covered by consumption advisories, consumers should follow the 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.

For decades, the DEP has been warning the public to not eat blue claw crabs taken from the lower Passaic River and Newark Bay complex due to elevated levels of dioxin contamination from pesticide production during the Vietnam War era. The DEP and federal Environmental Protection Agency last month announced the start of the first phase of a massive project to remove sediments contaminated with these chemicals.

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Last Updated: April 18, 2012