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What To Eat From Local Waters

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Sacramento, CA  – State environmental protection advisories offer fresh guidelines on local fish species that are fit to eat from the Mother Lode’s Camanche and New Melones reservoirs.

The advisory comes from the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The primary state entity for assessing risks posed by chemical contaminants in the environment has new guidelines and safe eating advice for consumers of catfish, carp, bass, sunfish, and hardhead from both reservoirs.

The recommendations are based on levels of methylmercury. The substance, created in water bodies where mercury is present, gets into fish through the foods they consume. As a natural metal, mercury is widely found in California rock and soil. It additionally finds its way into aquatic environments from mining and other industrial activities. Depending on the exposure level, methylmercury can harm human brain tissue and nervous systems, especially in fetuses and children, as they grow.

According to OEHHA Director Dr. George Alexeeff, eating fish in amounts slightly greater than the advisories’ recommendations is not likely to cause a health problem, if it is done only occasionally, such as eating fish caught during an annual vacation.

“Fish are an excellent source of protein and are an important part of a healthy and well-balanced diet,” Alexeeff says. “Eating fish provides important health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease. These guidelines balance these health benefits, against the risks from exposure to mercury in fish.”

According to OEHHA’s latest findings, black bass from the Camanche Reservoir should not be eaten at all by children 1-17 years of age or women ages 18-45. Additionally, these age groups should limit their consumption of carp, catfish, hardhead, or sunfish to one serving per week. Women over 45 years of age and men may eat one serving per week of black bass or up to two servings per week of carp, catfish, or hardhead — or three servings per week of sunfish.

Women aged 18-45 and children 1-17 years of age should altogether avoid eating bass from New Melones Reservoir but may eat one serving per week of carp or two servings per week of catfish. Women over 45 years of age and men may eat one serving per week of bass or two servings per week of carp or as many as five servings per week of catfish from this water source.

For more information regarding safe consumption of fish species from the Camanche and New Melones reservoirs, click here.