Some New Yorkers can eat more fish from Lake Ontario

Updated guidelines for consumption of fish taken from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River have been issued.

Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said the guideline changes reflect a decreased level of contaminants in these fish. 

This comes at a time when anglers are experiencing some of the highest species-specific catch rates on record.

“Fishing is a popular recreational activity in our state, and fish are an important part of a healthy diet,” said Zucker. “Since some fish contain chemicals that may be harmful to health, we issue advice to help New Yorkers make healthier choices about eating the fish they catch.”

“State and federal programs that reduce contamination to the environment have a positive impact on fish and wildlife, and we are pleased that fish in western New York areas are now healthier to consume,” Martens said. “The new advice for Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River, two of New York’s most heavily fished waters, demonstrates substantial environmental improvement and allows anglers to make greater use of these resources.”

Men over age 15 and women over age 50 can now consume:

  • Up to 4 meals per month of Chinook salmon, coho salmon and rainbow trout from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River (downstream of Niagara Falls);
  • Up to 4 meals per month of smaller brown trout (less than 20 inches) and smaller lake trout (less than 25 inches) from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River (downstream of Niagara Falls); and
  • Up to 4 meals per month of smallmouth bass from the lower Niagara River.

This new advice does not apply to women under age 50 and children under age 15. They should not eat any fish from Lake Ontario and the lower Niagara River. 

The Department of Health issues stricter advice for these more vulnerable groups.

This year’s advisories also include a change for Keuka Lake, as there is no longer any specific advice for eating fish. Everyone can enjoy up to 4 meals per month of all fish from Keuka Lake.

Also new for 2014 is a “New York State Blue Crab Cooking and Eating Guide,” which can be found at health.ny.gov/publications/6502.pdf.

DOH and DEC also remind hunters that waterfowl in the Hudson River between Hudson Falls and Troy are likely to have higher PCB levels than other areas of the state. Hunters are advised to harvest waterfowl from other locations of the Hudson River or other areas in the state.

New York has more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams; 7,600 lakes, ponds and reservoirs; two Great Lakes; and substantial marine waters and estuaries. About two million adults and 650,000 children fish New York waters each year. 

The health department issues specific advice for about 150 waterbodies.

Fish advisory information is available in both statewide and regional formats as well as online.

To view the complete statewide advisories for fish and game or order free print materials, visit the DOH web site at health.ny.gov/fish or call (518) 402-7530; toll-free at (800) 458-1158.

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