If you fish in Herkimer or Lewis County, listen up.

The New York State Department of Health has issued new advisories about consuming wild-caught fish in three regions in the state.

Fishing on the lake at sunset. Fishing background.

One of the affected areas is the Adirondack Region, which encompasses Lewis, Fulton, Hamilton, Essex, and Warren County, as well as portions of Herkimer, Saratoga, Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence County.

Courtesy the New York State Department of Health
Courtesy the New York State Department of Health

The Health Department warned, "Waters within the Adirondack Region have been more affected by methyl mercury than other parts of the state."

While mercury has been in the environment "for years," the advisory follows new data analysis from EPA data from mercury toxicity in local waters and those from neighboring states.

Unlike past alerts, the new advisory is more protective by providing certain guidelines for each fish species. These guidelines now display the best fish for consumption, those that should be limited, and fish to be avoided entirely.

The DOH also has different guidelines for the general population and sensitive groups, which are people under 50 who may become pregnant and children under 15.

The Department warned:

Chemicals in fish can have a greater effect on childhood development and unborn babies. Many of these chemicals can stay in the human body for decades. People who eat highly contaminated fish and get pregnant may be at higher risk of having children who are slower to develop and learn. Breastfeeding can also pass on some of these chemicals to a baby.


The Fish You Can and Cannot Eat

Fly Fishing

All groups should not eat a walleye that is over 19 inches, per these new rules.

The DOH also updated its guidance on fish all groups should consume less. This grouping is as follows:

  • Chain pickerel
  • Lake trout
  • Large and smallmouth bass
  • Rock bass
  • Yellow perch over 10 inches
  • Walleye less than 19 inches.

The DOH says the general population can eat 1 of the above fish per month while sensitive populations should avoid consuming this group entirely.

The recommended fish to consume for the whole family, because they were found to have the lowest levels of mercury, are as follows:

  • Bluegill
  • Black crapple
  • Brook trout
  • Rainbow trout
  • Brown trout
  • Bullhead
  • Freshwater drum
  • Sunfish/Pumpkinseed
  • White Perch
  • White Sucker
  • Yellow perch less than 10 inches

The above fish can be consumed 4 times a month for the general population while sensitive groups are advised to consume only 1 of these fish every month.

underwater fishing
Photo Credit - mel-nik/Thinkstock

Please click here to review the list of affected water bodies to make sure your fishing area is not impacted. The guidelines will list the fish you can and cannot eat, as well as the chemicals of concern that may be contaminating the body of water.

The second alert has been issued in the Catskill Region, which includes Delaware, Greene and Ulster County. You can read the advisory HERE.

Additionally, an alert has been applied to the areas in and surrounding New York City, which you can review HERE.

While it is disappointing to hear the news, it's better to know the risks than to accidentally expose oneself to potentially damaging chemicals.

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