State Cuts Health Department's Fish Advisory Program

LORAIN, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Department of Health's fish advisory program, which analyzed and set standards on whether fish from the state's waters are safe to eat, was eliminated when Gov. Bob Taft announced budget cuts July 15.

It had tracked cleanup efforts that included work being performed on the Black River in Lorain.

Department spokesman Kristopher Weiss said budget cuts mean setting priorities.

"You have to weigh things like the importance of fish advisories versus AIDS/HIV prevention," he said.

There is some concern that elimination of the program cut will make it more difficult for the state's river cleanup plans to succeed, said Ted Conlin, coordinator of the Black River Remedial Action Plan.

The department has scheduled a Black River visit for next week.

This year, the Health Department and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources gave out 100,000 free pamphlets indicating what fish and in what amounts were safe to consume, said ODNR spokeswoman Jane Bethard. The pamphlets were distributed to Ohio fishermen to people buying fishing licenses.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)