KDHE issues fish consumption advisories for 2023

TOPEKA –The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) are issuing fish consumption advisories for 2023. The advisories identify types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination. General advice and internet resources are provided to aid the public in making informed decisions regarding the benefits and risks associated with eating locally caught fish from Kansas waters.

Definitions:

Bottom-feeding fish: buffaloes, carps, catfishes, sturgeons and suckers.

Shellfish: mussels, clams and crayfish.

Serving size (skinless fish fillets before cooking):

  • Adults and children age 13 and older = 8 ounces
  • Children age 6 to 12 = 4 ounces
  • Children younger than 6 = 2 ounces

Statewide Mercury Advisories for Fish:

Getting outside to catch fish and eating fish has many health benefits, but all fish contain some amount of mercury. Anyone who routinely eats fish or serves fish to their children should carefully consider the types and amounts they eat, including store-bought fish. Too much dietary mercury can harm the development of fetuses, nursing babies and growing children. Therefore, mercury-sensitive individuals (women who are pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant, and children younger than 17 years old) should follow the guidelines presented below for eating fish caught in Kansas.

Fishing and Eating Guidelines:

  • Eat smaller portions – a fillet about the size of your palm.
  • Eat types of fish with less mercury (preferred choice fish below).
  • If you don’t know the type or size of fish you are eating, wait at least a week before eating fish again.
  • When fishing, keep fish shorter than your forearm (fingertips to elbow) or less than 20 inches as regulations allow.

Preferred choice fish are Blue and Channel Catfish, Common Carp, Crappies, White Bass, White Perch, Wiper, Striped Bass, Walleye, Sauger, Saugeye, Bullhead Catfish, Drum and Sunfish (Bluegill, Green, Redear, etc.). The best amount of servings is one or two per week. The second choice fish are Buffaloes (Black, Bigmouth, Smallmouth), Flathead Catfish and Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted). The best amount of servings is one or two per month.

For specific questions or concerns about mercury in Kansas fish, please contact KDHE. For information about mercury in fish caught in other states, in store-bought fish, and in other types of seafood please visit the U.S. EPA and U.S. FDA websites.

To date, measured algal toxin levels in fish samples collected from waters affected by harmful algal blooms (HABs) suggest the fish are safe to eat. However, please take the following precautions:

  • Avoid skin contact with water.
  • Wear gloves when handling wet fish and equipment.
  • Rinse fish with clean water.
  • Remove skin from fillets and rinse with clean water prior to cooking or freezing.
  • Eat only skinless fillets.
  • Do not eat shellfish.

General advice for reducing exposure to chemicals in fish

  • Keep smaller fish to eat and let the big ones go.
  • Avoid eating fish parts other than fillets.
  • Trim fat from fillets and/or use cooking methods that allow fat to drip away.
  • Avoid subsistence fishing (relying on wild-caught fish for daily nutritional needs) in rivers within or immediately downstream of large urban/industrial areas.
  • Do not eat fish or aquatic life from wastewater outfalls, waste treatment lagoons or stormwater retention ponds.

To view the advisories online and for information about KDHE’s Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program please visit the website at http://www.kdhe.ks.gov/1268.

For information about fishing in Kansas including licensing, regulations, fishing reports and fishing forecasts please visit the KDWPT fishing website http://ksoutdoors.com/Fishing.

For information about the health benefits vs. the risks of including fish in your diet please visit this American Heart Association website https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/25/eating-fish-twice-a-week-reduces-heart-stroke-risk.

For technical information regarding the U.S. EPA risk assessment methods used to determine advisory consumption limits please visit http://www2.epa.gov/fish-tech.

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