Feeling that tug on the line and seeing the bobber dip is certainly a thrill many anglers are looking forward to during this weekend’s fishing season opener. But in the excitement of the catch, anglers should remember to use caution when taking their catch home for dinner.
Eating fish has many health benefits, but unfortunately, anglers across the state must remain mindful of mercury pollution to protect the health of their families.
In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health Services currently list every inland body of water in the state under a fish consumption advisory due to mercury pollution. The state has established statewide safe eating guidelines. For instance, because larger fish contain larger amounts of mercury, children under 15 and women of child-bearing age are advised against eating muskies. However, 155 waters have more stringent guidelines.
Chronic exposure to this mercury, a toxic substance, results in memory loss, speech difficulties, troubles with vision and cardiovascular problems in adults. Children and the unborn exposed to mercury can face neurological damage that impairs development, leads to low intelligence and inhibits school performance.
Mercury enters Wisconsin waters from coal plant pollution or from household and industrial products. While there are now a number of laws in place to reduce mercury, including requiring coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent, a ban on selling products that unnecessarily contain mercury, and the successful e-waste law that makes it easier to recycle electronic waste that can contain mercury, there’s more to be done.
Residents can help reduce mercury pollution by lowering their energy use and properly recycling used thermostats and spent compact fluorescent light bulbs.
For more information about fish consumption, including a tool to check the eating guidelines for a favorite fishing spot, click here .