State Reinstates Fish-Consumption Advisories

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state said Tuesday it will reinstate a program that advises people which fish caught in Ohio are safe to eat.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will pay for the testing and analysis of fish for next year's fishing season. The agency then will work with the departments of Health and Natural Resources to determine how to continue the program beyond 2003.

The Health Department abolished the program in July to save $100,000 a year. Gov. Bob Taft then asked the three agencies to investigate ways to continue the advisories.

The advisories are based on samples of fish collected annually in Ohio rivers and lakes. Fish are tested for pesticides, mercury and other toxic chemicals.

The EPA will use existing money to pay program expenses for the 2003 fishing season.

The Health Department had to cut $12.3 million from its budget as part of state budget cuts. The department has said it chose to preserve core health programs, such as immunization of children.

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