GREEN RIVER - As ice fishing picks up around the region, so do questions from the public about the recent fish consumption advisory issued by the Wyoming Department of Health. The advisory addresses methylmercury levels in the flesh of angler-caught fish.
Green River fisheries supervisor Robert Keith said Wyoming’s Fish Consumption Advisory contains a great deal of current, useful information and recommendations. To read the advisory, visit the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s website (wgfd.wyo.gov).
“The Wyoming Health Department is working with Game and Fish to provide people information to allow them to make informed decisions about how to include fish in healthy diet,” Keith said. “The bottom line is, fish are an important part of a healthy diet because they contain high quality protein and other nutrients, are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, fish also contain methylmercury and some fish contain much more than others. Anglers need to take into consideration the information contained in the fish consumption advisory when deciding how frequently they are going to eat fish that have elevated levels of methylmercury.”
The Fish Consumption Advisory recommends the amount and type of fish to consume to recognize the health benefits of eating fish, while limiting consumption of mercury to safe levels. Humans can safely metabolize small amounts of consumed methylmercury, so it may take months or years of regularly eating fish to accumulate levels that could become a health concern. The advisory includes information for the general public as well as specific information for sensitive individuals, including pregnant women, women of childbearing age and children younger than 15. It includes specific consumption advice for fish caught from waters in the state that have been tested for levels of methylmercury. The advisory also provides general fish consumption advice for waters that have not been tested. The online advisory will be updated as new mercury testing results become available. For more information about the fish consumption advisory, call Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist at (307) 777-7172.
“Our fisheries biologists have sampled fish in reservoirs and lakes across Wyoming,” Keith said. “For example, if you are going to fish Fontenelle Reservoir or Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the advisory will provide consumption recommendations by species and size group for the fish that have been sampled to date. It is important to look at the advisory for a specific water. The levels of mercury in a particular species can vary greatly between waters.”
“Mercury levels increase as fish get larger and older. Keith said. “So, as a general rule, keep smaller Wyoming-caught fish for eating. Predatory fish, such as walleye, brown trout, lake trout, catfish, and burbot, often accumulate more mercury because they eat other fish. Some commonly eaten fish low in mercury are Wyoming-caught rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon.”
For more information see the January/February issue of Wyoming Wildlife News.
(Contact: Lucy Wold (307) 875-3223)