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Fish Consumption

Fishing Regulations Indiana Freshwater Fishing

Is it Safe to Eat Your Fish?

Eating recreationally caught fish from Indiana waters can be healthy and tasty when you have the proper information. The following section should alleviate most anglers’ concerns about eating wild-caught fish.

It’s all about a person’s exposure to contaminants over time. The two contaminants that drive the fish consumption advisory are mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Both contaminants are generally persistent in the environment at low enough levels they do not pose a health risk from direct contact with the water. However, both contaminants accumulate in fish tissue. The contaminants accumulate in human tissue like they do in fish and can build to levels that could pose a health threat.

The consumption advisory is based on a model assuming that people are consuming 8 oz. of fish on 225 days each year over 70 years. A determination can then be made from concentrations of contaminants in fish tested as to how frequently they can be safely eaten (note the fish consumption advisory groups).

The consumption recommendation groups range from 1 to 5 with 1 being unrestricted consumption and 5 being do not eat. Most anglers do not eat wild-caught fish nearly this frequently. As a result, if they are aware of the contaminant levels that likely are in the fish they catch, they should have little concern about eating them.

The primary concern is the sensitive population. This population comprises women of childbearing years, nursing and pregnant mothers, and children age 15 and younger. The reason for extra concern is evidence of developmental problems in babies and young children from contaminants at levels lower than what can be safely eaten by male adults and women who cannot become pregnant. The advisory reflects this concern.

However, it is also important for this population to obtain the nutrients from eating the right fish during this time period. Combining consumption of wild-caught fish with frequently eaten commercial sources of fish containing contaminants could pose a health risk. Making the best choices in both sources of fish can help women and children obtain the benefits from fish while avoiding the health risks. Note the commercial fish consumption table for the at-risk group and for people that frequently consume commercial fish.

Eating fish from lakes and reservoirs is generally less of a concern. Contaminant levels are generally very low in lakes and reservoirs.

Eating fish from rivers and streams is generally a much higher concern. Most water bodies carrying do-not-eat consumption advisories for all species are streams. The fish consumption advisory has an extensive list of rivers and streams that have species with group 4 and 5 consumption advisories; however, many streams contain species with low levels of contaminants. Several of the major fished rivers that have some group 4 and 5 species are listed. Many of these rivers and streams contain some very good catch-and-release fisheries.

Consult the Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory for much more detailed information at https://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm.

For more information on the fish consumption advisory or answers to questions concerning the advisory, contact:

Indiana State Department of Health

Division of Environmental Public Health

100 N. Senate Ave., Room N855

Indianapolis, IN 46204

(317) 233-9264

Guidelines to Reduce Your Risk

  • If a waterbody is not listed in the advisory or if a fish species is not listed for a waterbody that was sampled, you should consult the statewide “Safe Eating Guidelines.”
  • Eat smaller, less fatty fish like panfish (bluegill, perch and crappie).
  • Remove fat near the skin of the fish before cooking and broil, bake, or grill fish so the fat drips away.
  • Children and women of child-bearing age benefit from the nutrients in fish, but they are at an increased risk when eating fish contaminated with mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).
  • For more information, see chooseyourfish.org/fish on Minnesota’s website. Most of the information is relevant to Indiana, but some is Minnesota-specific.

Wild fish consumption

Advisory groups

Group

General
Population

Sensitive
Population*

1

Unrestricted
consumption

Unrestricted
consumption

2

1 meal per week

1 meal per week

3

1 meal per month

1 meal per month

4

1 meal every
2 months

1 meal every
2 months

5

Do not eat

Do not eat

Commercial Fish Consumption Advisory

Species

General Population

Sensitive Population*

Fresh or canned salmon; shellfish like shrimp, clams, crab, scallops and oysters; tilapia; herring; canned “light” tuna; sardines; pollock; cod; farm-raised catfish; flounder; farm-raised rainbow trout; haddock; squid; whitefish

Unrestricted consumption

1 meal per week

Canned albacore “white” tuna (6 oz.), freshwater perch, grouper, halibut, mahi-mahi and lobster

1 meal per week

1 meal per month

Shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackeral, orange roughy, Spanish mackeral, marlin, Chilean sea bass, walleye (Great Lakes, Canada), fresh and frozen tuna

1 meal per month

Do not eat

All State Waters Carrying
Do-Not-Eat Advisories for All Species

Water

County

Elliot Ditch

Tippecanoe

Grand Calumet River/Indiana Harbor Canal

Lake

Kokomo Creek

Howard/Tipton

Little Mississinewa River

Randolph

Little Sugar Creek/Walnut Fork

Montgomery

Salt Creek

Lawrence

Wea Creek

Tippecanoe

Wildcat Creek

Howard/Carroll— downstream from the Waterworks Dam in Kokomo to the Tippecanoe County line

STATEWIDE SAFE EATING GUIDELINES

Recommendations when a waterbody has not been sampled for a particular species. Fish at or below the size listed should be safe for consumption once per week. The sensitive population includes women of childbearing years, pregnant and nursing mothers, and children age 15 and younger.

Fish Species

Sensitive Population

General Population

Bullhead

All

All

Buffalo

< 23″

< 27″

Carpsuckers

< 16″

< 16″

Channel Catfish

< 21″

< 21″

Common Carp

< 20″

< 20″

Crappie

All

All

Flathead Catfish

< 19″

< 30″

Freshwater Drum

< 15″

All

Largemouth Bass

< 16″

All

Northern Pike

< 30″

All

Redhorse

< 23″

All

Rock Bass

All

All

Sauger

< 14″

< 20″

Silver Carp

All

All

Smallmouth Bass

< 14″

All

Spotted Bass

< 10″

All

Sunfish

All

All

Walleye

< 19″

All

White, Striped,
Hybrid Striped Bass

< 12″

< 24″

Major LAKES & rivers with
Group 4 & 5 Species general &
SENSITIVE population advisory*

Water

County

Species

Size (inches)

Group

Clear Lake

LaPorte

Common Carp

All

5

Largemouth Bass

All

4

East Fork White River

Daviess/Dubois/
Lawrence/Martin

Largemouth Bass

All

4

Lake
Michigan

Lake/LaPorte/Porter

Lake Trout

30+

5

Mississinewa River

Randolph

Channel Catfish

All

5

Common Carp

22+

4

Delaware/Grant/Miami

Flathead Catfish

29+

4

Muscatatuck River

Jackson/Washington

Channel Catfish

18+

4

Ohio River

All counties

Channel Catfish

18+

4

Hybrid Striped Bass

All

4

Striped Bass

All

4

St. Joseph River

St. Joseph (Baugo Bay Area to the Twin Branch Dam)

Common Carp

All

4

St. Joseph
(Twin Branch Dam to IN/MI State Line)

Channel Catfish

All

5

Common Carp

All

5

Redhorse Species

All

4

Steelhead

33+

4

Wabash River

Fountain/Parke/Tippecanoe/
Vermillion/Warren

Carpsucker
Species

All

4

West Fork White River

Delaware/Hamilton (to Stony Creek)/Madison

Channel Catfish

24+

4

Marion (downstream of Broad Ripple dam)/Morgan

Flathead Catfish

23+

4

Remediation Reduces Contaminant Levels

Updates to the Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory include the removal of Clear Creek and Pleasant Run Creek from the all-species Do Not Eat (DNE) list.

Clear Creek, located in Monroe County, was on the DNE list due to PCB-contaminated groundwater from a nearby landfill. Remediation of the landfill was completed in 2012, and PCB contamination in fish tissue has greatly declined.

Pleasant Run Creek, located in Lawrence County, was also on the DNE list for PCB contamination from an industrial facility in the area. Five miles of Bailey’s Branch and Pleasant Run Creek were remediated in 2006-2007. The result has been reduced PCB contamination in fish.

Although these sites have been removed from the DNE list, many fish species still have elevated levels of PCBs. Please consult the site-specific advice for these waters before consuming fish.

 

Fish Consumption Advisory Interactive Map

The Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory is now available as a mobile-friendly, interactive map. Users can search by address, waterbody name, or county to find advisories. A pop-up window will open when a waterbody is selected, and the window will display specific consumption advice for that waterbody if contaminants testing has been performed. If not, then Statewide Safe Eating Guidelines will display. Additional resources on fish consumption and public-access locations can be found on the site.

The fish consumption map can be found at https://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm