Coosa under fish consumption advisory

Published 11:10 am Friday, August 5, 2011

The Coosa River in Chilton County remains under a fish consumption advisory issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

A new update to the advisory warns against consuming striped bass from the Lay Lake reservoir in Chilton County possibly contaminated with PCBs.

Specifically, women of childbearing age and small children shouldn’t consume striped bass at all and all other individuals shouldn’t consume more than one meal a month.

The department of public health annual updates its fish consumption guidelines each summer based on data collected the previous fall by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Striped bass further up the Coosa have been under a No Consumption Advisory (meaning no one should eat the fish) for several years for Lay Lake from Logan Martin Dam to Lay Dam for PCBs.

Fish are analyzed for up to 30 different types of materials, including contaminants in the water, pesticides and heavy metals to which the fish may have been exposed.

The state stresses that these advisories are offered as guidance to individuals who wish to eat fish they catch from water bodies across the state. No regulations ban the consumption of any fish caught within the state. There also isn’t a risk of an acute toxic episode from eating fish containing the contaminants for which the state tested.

In the Coosa, striped bass are dangerous for consumption because they are top-of-the-line predators and are large enough to consume almost everything else in the water — as well as the contaminants those other fish have consumed. They also have a relatively long life span, which compounds the problem.

Even in the no consumption areas, people should feel free to pursue fishing as a recreational sport — just practice catch-and-release.