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New York State Department of Health (DOH) Advisories for Chemicals in Sportfish

Fish can be good to eat and nutritious, but some fish contain chemicals that may be harmful to health. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) issues advice on eating fish that people catch in New York State waters.

The following recommendations are based on contaminant levels in fish and shellfish. The advisories are for the year 2010, but they may change from year to year based on new information. The complete, up-to-date advisories are available from the internet at: www.nyhealth.gov/fish.

General advisory for eating sportfish

The general health advisory for sportfish is that you eat up to four (one-half pound) meals per month of fish taken from the state’s freshwaters and some marine waters at the mouth of the Hudson River. These include the New York waters of the Hudson River, Upper Bay of New York Harbor (north of Verrazano Narrows Bridge), Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, Newark Bay, Raritan Bay west of Wolfe’s Pond Park, Harlem River, and the East River to the Throgs Neck Bridge. DOH issues this advice because some chemicals are commonly found in New York State fish (mercury and PCBs for example), fish from all waters have not been tested and fish may contain unidentified contaminants. The general advisory does not apply to most marine waters.

Specific advisories for freshwater and the Hudson River

Fish from more than 130 water bodies in New York have specific advisories. For these listed waters, DOH recommends either limiting or not eating a specific kind of fish. The specific advisories for fresh waters and the Hudson River are provided in the Health Advisory tables. DOH recommends that women of childbearing age, infants, and children under the age of 15 not eat any fish from waters listed in the tables. The reason for this advice is that chemicals may have a greater effect on developing organs of young children or in the unborn child. They also build up in women’s bodies and are often passed on in the mother’s milk.

2011–2012 Health Advisories

To minimize potential adverse health impacts, the DOH recommends:

  • Eat up to four (one-half pound) meals per month of fish from the state’s freshwaters, the Hudson River estuary, Upper Bay of New York Harbor (north of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge), Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, Newark Bay, Raritan Bay west of Wolfe’s Pond Park, East River to the Throgs Neck Bridge and Harlem River, except as recommended.
  • Follow the advice on eating fish for waters and their tributaries to the first barrier impassable by fish.
  • Observe the following restrictions on eating fish from these waters and their tributaries to the first barrier impassable by fish.

Women under 50 years of age and children under 15 years of age should not eat any fish from the waters listed below. All others should follow the listed advice.

 

Water (County)

Species

Recommendations

Amawalk Reservoir (Westchester)

Largemouth & smallmouth bass over 16″

1 meal/month

Ashokan Reservoir (Ulster)

Smallmouth bass over 16″ & walleye

1 meal/month

Barge Canal
(Tonawanda Creek)
Lockport to Niagara River (Erie/Niagara)

Carp

1 meal/month

Beaver Lake (Lewis)

Chain pickerel

1 meal/month

Big Moose Lake (Herkimer)

Yellow perch over 9 inches

1 meal/month

Blue Mountain Lake (Hamilton)

Largemouth & smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Bog Brook Reservoir (Putnam)

Walleye over 21″

1 meal/month

Boyds Corner Reservoir (Putnam)

Largemouth bass over 16″ & walleye

1 meal/month

Breakneck Pond (Rockland)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Buffalo River/Harbor (Erie)

Carp

Don’t Eat

Canada Lake (Fulton)

Smallmouth bass over 15″ & chain pickerel

1 meal/month

Canadice Lake (Ontario)

Lake trout over 23″

Don’t Eat

Smaller lake trout, brown trout

1 meal/month

Cannonsville Reservoir (Delaware)

Smallmouth bass over 15″ & yellow perch

1 meal/month

Carry Falls Reservoir (St. Lawrence)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Cayuga Creek (Niagara)

All species

Don’t Eat

Chase Lake (Fulton)

Yellow perch over 9″

1 meal/month

Chenango River

Walleye over 22″

1 meal/month

Chodikee Lake (Ulster)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Cranberry Lake (St. Lawrence)

Largemouth and smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Crane Pond (Essex)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Cross River Reservoir (Westchester)

Largemouth & smallmouth bass over 16″

1 meal/month

Dart Lake (Herkimer)

Yellow perch over 10″

1 meal/month

Delaware Park Lake (Erie)

Carp

1 meal/month

Diverting Reservoir (Putnam)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Dunham Reservoir (Rensselaer)

Walleye,

Don’t Eat

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Dyken Pond (Rensselaer)

Largemouth bass

1 meal/month

East Branch Reservoir (Putnam)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Effley Falls Reservoir (Lewis)

Chain pickerel & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Eighteen Mile Creek (Niagara)

All species

Don’t Eat

Elmer Falls Reservoir (Lewis)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Ferris Lake (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 12″

Don’t Eat

Smaller yellow perch

1 meal/month

Forked Lake (Hamilton)

Largemouth & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Fourth Lake (Herkimer & Hamilton)

Lake trout

Don’t Eat

Francis Lake (Lewis)

Yellow perch over 9″ & Chain pickerel

1 meal/month

Franklin Falls Flow/ Pond (Franklin & Essex)

Walleye

Don’t Eat

Freeport Reservoir (Nassau)

Carp

1 meal/month

Fresh Pond, Hither Hills State Park (Suffolk)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Goodyear Lake (Otsego)

Walleye over 22″

1 meal/month

Grant Park Pond (Nassau)

Carp

1 meal/month

Grasse River (St. Lawrence)
Mouth to Massena Power Canal

All species

Don’t Eat

Great Sacandaga Lake (Fulton, Saratoga)

Smallmouth bass & Walleye

1 meal/month

Halfmoon Lake (Lewis)

Yellow perch

1 meal/month

Hall’s Pond (Nassau)

Carp and goldfish

Don’t Eat

Herrick Hollow Creek (Delaware)

Brook trout

1 meal/month

High Falls Pond (Lewis)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Hoosic River (Rensselaer)

Brown trout over 14″

1 meal/month

Hudson River

See Table

Indian Lake—Fort Drum (Lewis)

All species

1 meal/month

Indian Lake—Town of Indian Lake (Hamilton County)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Irondequoit Bay (Monroe)

Carp

Don’t Eat

Keuka Lake (Yates & Steuben)

Lake trout over 25″

1 meal/month

Kinderhook Lake (Columbia)

American eel

1 meal/month

Kings Flow (Hamilton)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Koppers Pond (Chemung)

Carp

1 meal/month

Lake Capri (Suffolk)

American eel and carp

1 meal/month

Lake Champlain (Whole Lake)

Lake trout over 25″ and walleye over 19″

1 meal/month

• Bay within Cumberland Head to Crab Island

Brown bullhead

Don’t Eat

American eel & yellow perch

1 meal/month

Lake Durant and Rock Pond (Hamilton)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Lake Eaton (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 10″, smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Lake Ontario (Whole Lake)
(note: harvest/possession of Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River American eel is prohibited per NYSDEC Regulations.)

Channel catfish, carp, lake trout over 25″ and brown trout over 20″

Don’t Eat

Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, white sucker, smaller lake trout, smaller brown trout, coho salmon over 25″

1 meal/month

• West of Point Breeze

White perch

Don’t Eat

• East of Point Breeze

White perch

1 meal/month

Lincoln Pond (Essex)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Loch Sheldrake (Sullivan)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Loft’s Pond (Nassau)

Carp and goldfish

1 meal/month

Long Lake (Hamilton)

Northern Pike

1 meal/month

Long Pond-Croghan (Lewis)

Splake over 12″

Don’t Eat

Lower & Upper Sister Lakes (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 10″

Don’t Eat

Lower Saranac Lake (Franklin)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Massapequa Reservoir (Nassau)

White perch

1 meal/month

Massena Power Canal (St. Lawrence)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Meacham Lake (Franklin)

Yellow perch over 12″

Don’t Eat

Smaller yellow perch

1 meal/month

Smallmouth bass

Don’t Eat

Northern pike

1 meal/month

Middle (East) Stoner Lake (Fulton)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Mohawk River

• Between Oriskany and West Canada Creeks (Oneida & Herkimer)

Carp

Don’t Eat

Largemouth bass & tiger muskellunge

1 meal/month

• Between West Canada Creek and Fivemile Dam below Little Falls (Herkimer)

Carp

1 meal/month

Moshier Reservoir (Herkimer)

Yellow perch & smallmouth Bass

1 meal/month

Nassau Lake (Rensselaer)

All species

Don’t Eat

Neversink Reservoir (Sullivan)

Brown trout over 24″ & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Niagara River

• Above Niagara Falls

Carp

1 meal/month

• Below Niagara Falls

(note: harvest/possession of Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River American eel is prohibited per NYSDEC Regulations.)

Channel catfish, carp, lake trout over 25″, brown trout over 20″ and white perch

Don’t Eat

Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, white sucker, smaller lake trout, smaller brown trout and coho salmon over 25″

1 meal/month

North Lake—Town of Ohio (Herkimer)

Yellow perch

1 meal/month

North-South Lake (Greene)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Onondaga Lake (Onondaga)

Largemouth & smallmouth bass over 15″, walleye, carp, channel catfish and white perch

Don’t Eat

All other species and smaller largemouth and smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Osgood Pond (Franklin)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Oswego River (Oswego)

• Oswego power dam to upper dam
at Fulton

Channel catfish

1 meal/month

• Mouth to Oswego Power Dam

See Lake Ontario Advice

Pepacton Reservoir (Delaware)

Smallmouth bass over 15″, brown trout over 24″ & yellow perch

1 meal/month

Pine Lake (Fulton)

Largemouth bass

1 meal/month

Polliwog Pond (Franklin)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Raquette Lake (Hamilton)

Largemouth bass

1 meal/month

Red Lake (Jefferson)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Ridders Pond (Nassau)

Goldfish

Don’t Eat

Rio Reservoir
(Orange & Sullivan)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Rock Pond and Lake Durant—Town of Indian Lake (Hamilton)

Largemouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Rollins Pond (Franklin)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Rondout Reservoir (Sullivan & Ulster)

Smallmouth bass over 16″

1 meal/month

Round Pond—Town of Long Lake (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 12″

1 meal/month

Rushford Lake (Allegany)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Russian Lake (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 9″

1 meal/month

Sacandaga Lake (Hamilton)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

St. Lawrence River

• Whole river
(note: harvest/possession of Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River American eel is prohibited per NYSDEC Regulations.)

Carp, channel catfish, lake trout over 25”, & brown trout over 20”

Don’t Eat

Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, white perch, white sucker, smaller lake trout, smaller brown trout and coho salmon over 25”

1 meal/month

• Bay and cove east of S. Channel Bridge, near St. Lawrence/ Franklin Co. line

All species

Don’t Eat

Salmon River (Oswego)

• Mouth to Salmon Reservoir (also see Lake Ontario)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Salmon River Reservoir (Oswego)

Largemouth & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Sand Lake—Town of Arietta (Hamilton)

Chain pickerel

1 meal/month

Sauquoit Creek (Oneida)

Mohawk River to Old Silk Mill Dam (near New Hartford/Paris town line)

Brown trout

Don’t Eat

Saw Mill River (Westchester)

American eel

1 meal/month

Schoharie Reservoir (Delaware, Greene and Schoharie)

Smallmouth bass over 15″ & walleye over 18″

Don’t Eat

Smaller smallmouth bass & smaller walleye

1 meal/month

Schroon Lake (Warren, Essex)

Lake trout over 27″, yellow perch over 13″, & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Seneca River (Onondaga)

• Downstream of Lock 24 at Baldwinsville

See Onondaga Lake advisories

Sheldrake River (Westchester)

American eel

Don’t Eat

Goldfish

1 meal/month

Skaneateles Creek (Onondaga)

• Seneca River to dam at Skaneateles

Brown trout over 10″

1 meal/month

Smith Pond at Rockville Centre (Nassau)

White perch

1 meal/month

Smith Pond at Roosevelt Park (Nassau)

American eel

Don’t Eat

Carp and goldfish

1 meal/month

Soft Maple Dam Pond and Soft Maple Reservoir (Lewis)

Rock bass & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

South Pond—Town of Long Lake (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 10″

1 meal/month

Spring Pond – Middle Island (Suffolk)

Carp and goldfish

Don’t Eat

Spy Lake (Hamilton)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Stillwater Reservoir (Herkimer)

Yellow perch over 9″, smallmouth bass & splake

1 meal/month

Sunday Lake (Herkimer)

Chain pickerel

Don’t Eat

Yellow perch

1 meal/month

Susquehanna River

Walleye over 22″

1 meal/month

Swinging Bridge Reservoir (Sullivan)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Threemile Creek (Oneida)

White sucker

1 meal/month

Titicus Reservoir (Westchester)

White perch

1 meal/month

Tupper Lake (Franklin & St. Lawrence)

Smallmouth bass & walleye

1 meal/month

Unadilla River

Walleye over 22″

1 meal/month

Union Falls Flow (Pond) (Clinton, Franklin)

Northern pike & smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Upper & Lower Sister Lakes (Hamilton)

Yellow perch over 10″

Don’t Eat

Upper Chateaugay Lake (Clinton)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Upper Twin Pond (Nassau)

American eel & carp

1 meal/month

Valatie Kill

• Between County Rt. 18 and Nassau Lake (Rensselaer)

All species

Don’t Eat

• Between Nassau Lake and Kinderhook Lake (Rensselaer & Columbia)

American eel, bluegill and redbreasted sunfish

1 meal/month

Weller Pond (Franklin)

Northern pike

1 meal/month

West Branch Reservoir (Putnam)

Walleye

1 meal/month

Whitney Park Pond (Nassau)

Carp and goldfish

1 meal/month

Willis Lake (Hamilton)

Smallmouth bass

1 meal/month

Woods Lake (Hamilton)

Smallmouth bass over 15″

1 meal/month

Additional Advice for Women and Children Eating fish from Adirondack and Catskill Waters

Certain larger, older fish in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountain regions often contain relatively high levels of mercury in their flesh. Because of this, children under 15 and women under 50 should EAT NO yellow perch longer than 10″, northern pike, pickerel, walleye, largemouth bass or smallmouth bass from all Adirondack and Catskill region waters. The statewide advisory to eat up to four meals per month applies for yellow perch less than 10″, brook, brown and rainbow trout, bullhead, bluegill/sunfish, rock bass and crappie because these fish tend to have lower mercury levels. Children under 15 and women over 50 should EAT NO fish from Catskill and Adirondack region waters.

 

Fish Advisories for the Hudson River

Women under 50 years of age and children under 15 years of age should not eat any fish from the Hudson River downstream of Corinth.
All others should follow the advice listed below.

Location (chemicals of concern)

Don’t Eat

Eat up to one meal per month

Eat up to one
(1/2 pound) meal per week

Corinth Dam to Dam at Route 9 Bridge in South Glens Falls (mercury)

Smallmouth bass over 14″

All other fish species

Sherman Island Dam downstream to Feeder Dam at South Glens Falls (PCBs)

Carp

All other fish species

Dam at Route 9 Bridge in South Glens Falls to Bakers Falls (PCBs)

All fish species

Bakers Falls to Troy Dam

Catch and release fishing only per NYS Department of
Environmental Conservation regulations

Troy Dam south to bridge at Catskill (PCBs)
(note: harvest/possession of Hudson River American eel and American shad for food is prohibited per NYSDEC Regulations.)

All fish species except those listed at right

Alewife

Blueback herring, Rock bass

Yellow perch

South of Catskill (PCBs in fish and cadmium, dioxin and PCBs in crabs)

Channel catfish, Gizzard shad, White catfish, Crab hepatopancreas and crab cooking liquid*

Atlantic needlefish, Bluefish, Brown bullhead, Carp, Goldfish, Largemouth bass, Rainbow smelt, Smallmouth bass, Striped bass, Walleye, White perch

All other fish species

Blue crab meat*
(six crabs per week)

* The hepatopancreas (“the green stuff” also known as mustard, tomalley, liver) found in the body section of crabs and lobsters should not be eaten because it has high contaminant levels. Because contaminants are transferred to cooking liquid, crab or lobster cooking liquid should also be discarded (Contaminants – cadmium, dioxin, PCBs)

Additional Advice

Advisories for Lake Erie

Women under the age of 50 and children under the age of 15 are advised to eat up to four meals per month of chinook salmon less than 19 inches, burbot, freshwater drum, lake whitefish, rock bass and yellow perch. Eat up to one meal per month of all other fish from Lake Erie. Women over 50 years and men over 15 years of age can eat up to four meals per month of any Lake Erie fish species.

Special Advice for Women of Childbearing Age and Children

Eating Blue Crab from the Hudson River

The advisory for women under 50 years of age, infants and children under 15 is DON’T EAT fish from the Hudson River. However, based on contaminant data, women under 50 years of age and children under 15 years of age can eat up to a few meals per year of crab meat, but they should not eat the crab tomalley (hepatopancreas) or cooking liquid. Contaminants in blue crab are PCBs, cadmium and dioxin.

Health Advisories for Marine Waters

Health advisories for marine waters, including the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, East and Harlem rivers, Newark Bay, Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, and Raritan Bay west of Wolfe’s Pond Park can be found on the DOH website at www.nyhealth.gov/fish.

Reducing Exposure to Chemical Contaminants From Fish and Shellfish

Although eating fish has health benefits, fish with high contaminant levels should be avoided. You can benefit from eating the fish you catch and can minimize your contaminant intake by following these general recommendations:

  1. Choose sportfish from waterbodies that are not listed and follow the advice in this booklet.
  2. When deciding which sportfish to eat, choose smaller fish, consistent with DEC regulations, within a species since they may have lower contaminant levels. Older (larger) fish within a species may be more contaminated because they have had more time to accumulate contaminants in their bodies.
  3. To reduce exposures to mercury, avoid or eat less largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, pickerel, walleye and larger yellow perch (e.g., longer than 10 inches) because these fish tend to have higher mercury levels.
  4. To reduce exposures to PCBs, dioxin, mirex, DDT, chlordane and dieldrin, avoid or eat less American eel, bluefish, carp, chinook and coho salmon, lake trout, striped bass, weakfish, white and channel catfish, and white perch, because these fish tend to have higher levels of these contaminants.
  5. When preparing sportfish, use a method of filleting the fish that will reduce the skin, fatty material and dark meat. These parts of the fish contain many of the contaminants.
  6. When cooking sportfish, use cooking methods (broiling, poaching, boiling and baking) which allow contaminants from the fatty portions of fish to drain out. Pan-frying is not recommended. The cooking liquids and fat drippings of fish from contaminated waters should be discarded since these liquids contain contaminants.
  7. Do not eat the soft “green stuff” (mustard, tomalley, liver or hepatopancreas) found in the body section of crab and lobster. This tissue can contain high levels of chemical contaminants, including PCBs, dioxin and heavy metals.
  8. Anglers who want to enjoy the fun of fishing but who wish to eliminate the potential risks associated with eating contaminated sportfish may want to consider “catch and release” fishing.
  9. Space out your fish meals so you don’t get too much exposure to one or more chemicals at any given time. This is particularly important for women and young children.

Deformed or Abnormal Fish

The health implications of eating deformed or abnormal fish are unknown. Any obviously diseased fish (marked by tumors, lesions or other abnormal condition of the fish skin, meat or internal organs) should be discarded.

Botulism in Fish and Waterfowl

In recent years, large numbers of some species of Lake Erie fish and waterfowl have been found dead, sick and dying, many of them as a result of botulism poisoning. The botulism poison is produced by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which is common in the environment and can produce harmful levels of botulism poison under certain environmental conditions. This poison has been found in some of the affected fish and waterfowl. The botulism poison can cause illness and death if consumed by humans or animals. Cooking may not destroy the botulism poison. This problem may also occur in other waters, and we don’t know whether all or only some fish and waterfowl species can be affected.

No human cases of botulism poisoning have been linked to these events. However, as a precaution, do not eat any fish or game if they are found dead or dying, act abnormally or seem sick. If you must handle dead or dying fish, birds or other animals, cover your hands with disposable rubber or plastic protective gloves or a plastic bag.

Good Sanitary Practices—Bacteria, Viruses and Parasites in Fish & Game

Fish and game and other meats can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites that can cause illness. You should harvest fish and game that act and look healthy, and follow good sanitary practices when preparing them. We recommend that you wear rubber or plastic protective gloves while filleting, field dressing, skinning or butchering. We also recommend that you remove intestines soon after harvest, don’t eat intestines and avoid direct contact with intestinal contents. Hands, utensils and work surfaces should be washed before and after handling any raw food, including fish and game meat. Fish and game should be kept cool (with ice or refrigerated below 45º F or 7º C) until filleted or butchered, and then should be refrigerated or frozen. Some hunters prefer to hang big game for several days before butchering; this should not be done unless the game can be kept at temperatures consistently below 45º F. Fish and other seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature (in the thickest part) of 140º F (60º C); game birds and other types of wild game meat should be cooked to an internal temperature (in the thickest part) of 165º F (74º C).

Additional Information

To receive an updated, complete version of the advisories, or for more DOH information on health effects from exposure to chemical contaminants, contact:

  • Environmental Health Information 1-800-458-1158
    Leave your name, number and a brief message. Your call will be returned.
  • The complete updated advisories are available from the internet at: www.nyhealth.gov/fish
  • You can also request these updates by e-mail: BTSA@health.state.ny.us
  • For more DEC information on contaminant levels in sportfish, contact:
    Bureau of Habitat
    625 Broadway
    Albany, New York 12233-4756
    Telephone: 518-402-8920
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