State: Lake’s Fish Safe to Eat in Moderation
By Mirror Staff
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Given the pervasiveness of mercury and its tendency to accumulate in fish, New Yorkers are advised against eating fish taken from the state’s water bodies more than once a week.
Moreover, children and preganant women are advised not to eat any bass, walleye, pickerel, pike or yellow perch over ten inches taken from Adirondack lakes.
And pregnant women and children are advised against eating any fish at all, regardless of species, from several enumerated Adirondack lakes.
Lake George, however, is not on that list. Does that mean it’s safe to eat lake trout and salmon which may have been taken from Lake George?
According to Peter Constantakes, a spokesman for the Department of Health, which issues the advisories, “the latest available data does not indicate a need for a specific advisory for Lake George for lake trout and salmon.”
The most recent data was compiled by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation between 2003 and 2007, said Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for DEC. According to that study, the levels of mercury found in the bass and perch that were sampled were relatively low.
“The levels shown for these species do not trip the DOH criterion for a specific advisory,” said Severino.
The study did not include samples of trout or salmon, Severino said. Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, said the fact that lake trout were not sampled left a worrisome gap in the state’s data.
“Lake trout is perhaps Lake George’s most popular sport fish. It should have been tested,” he said.
Moreover, Bauer said, while the mercury levels found in Lake George’s bass and perch may have been acceptable by state standards, levels in some of the fish may have exceeded federal guidelines.
“We’re advising New York State to revisit its mercury studies of Lake George,” said Bauer.
Peter Constantakes, the DOH spokesman, said that in the absence of new data, residents and visitors to Lake George should abide by the state-wide advisory against eating fish more than four times a month. Children under 15 years of age and women under the age of 50 should heed the warning to avoid eating bass, pickerel, yellow pike and walleye, and should also limit fish consumption of any species to no more than four meals a month, Constantakes said.