Few Changes On State's Annual Fish Eating List

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - There's just one change on the list of Lake Erie fish that are safe to eat, according to the state's annual consumption advisory.

Lake Erie walleye longer than 25 inches should be consumed just once a month, the report released Friday said. Those trophy-size walleye, which account for about 5 percent of the walleye in Lake Erie, had been safe to eat once a week.

Walleye under 25 inches remains safe to be eaten once a week.

The state warns that because of possible mercury contamination, women of childbearing age and children under age 7 should not eat more than one meal of Ohio sport fish each week.

There were five other changes on this year's list:

  • Black River, East Branch: Rock bass, smallmouth bass and yellow bullhead should only be eaten once a month.
  • Portage River, North Branch: Common carp should only be eaten once every two months.
  • Rocky River, West Branch: Rock bass and smallmouth bass should be eaten only once a month.
  • Tiffin River: Northern Pike should be eaten only once a month.
  • Auglaize River: Smallmouth bass and freshwater drum should only be consumed once a month.

The health department says most of Ohio's fish are high quality.

The contaminated fish are mainly bottom-feeding fish such as carp and catfish.

PCBs -- man-made oils once used in electrical equipment -- were banned in 1977 but remain in the sediment because they are slow to break down.

Contaminants in fish can cause birth defects and physical and metal retardation in newborns.

Included on the list of fish that should not be eaten are large channel catfish in the Ohio River and Lake Erie; carp in the Ohio River; and all channel catfish in the Maumee River near Toledo.

The state tests fish in all of Ohio's major lakes and rivers every year. Some heavily fished water, such as Lake Erie and the Ohio River, are tested more often.

The advisory is based on tests on more than 400 fish tissue samples taken last year.

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