New Report: Toxic Chemical levels In Great Lakes Fish High

Posted Jul 6, 2007 by Bob Ewing

Fish is still a healthy food but a recent report carries a warning, the toxic chemical levels of the fish in the Great Lakes is high and getting higher. You can still eat fish but be careful of where it comes from.
Is the pollution of the Great lakes on the rise? A report just released by Environmental Defence (ED) states that the levels of toxic chemicals in fish in the Great lakes system is too high. ED released the report to coincide with the kick off of the Ontario family Fishing Weekend (July 6-8).
While fish remains a healthy choice for consumers, toxic contamination levels suggest that we are still treating the Great Lakes as a toxic waste dump. We are clearly not doing enough to protect this vital ecosystem. We need stronger pollution regulations and a real plan from the federal and provincial governments to clean up the Lakes.” ,” said Aaron Freeman, Policy Director of Environmental Defence.
Up to the Gills: Pollution in Great Lakes Fish
used the fish advisories that published by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The advisories provided information on four species of fish located in 13 locations across the Great Lakes. According to the information that ED found that many categories of fish are somewhat or completely unfit for human consumption. In addition this condition is spreading to other categories of fish within the Great lakes system.
Mercury, PCBs, pesticides, dioxins and furans are the main chemicals of concern as reported in the advisories. These chemicals are known to cause damage to the nervous, respiratory and immune systems. Lake Erie stands out as one exception to this trend, it has shown reductions in toxic contamination levels over time.
While Lake Ontario, for example,has eight categories of fish that have become more contaminated between the years, 2005 and 2007 and only one category has shown any improvement.
To say that sports fishing is a popular activity throughout the Great lakes region many be an understatement. More than five million anglers fish the Great Lakes every year in a commercial and sport fishing industry worth $3.5 billion a year. The ED report states the health benefits of eating fish it adds a cautionary note that consumers need to watch what fish they eat and where those fish originate.
“The toxics can really add up,” said Freeman. “Fish from the supermarket, from the chip stand and from the Great Lakes all contain various concentrations of harmful contaminants, which all together can have serious cumulative effects on human health.”
The report makes several recommendations on how to protect public health by:
- improving the information used in fish advisories;
- enhancing the delivery of fish advisories to high risk groups;
- preventing fish contamination advisories by reducing pollution from
- industry, sewage systems, agriculture and urban runoff; and
- enhancing the Canada-U.S. response to threats to fish in the Great Lakes.
If this report is accurate a major industry may be in jeopardy and this is complicated by the potential health threats that could exist.