Health Officials Issue Fish Consumption Advisories

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

If you frequently eat fish caught in some Eastern Kentucky waterways, you may want to cut back. State health officials issued fish consumption advisories for several areas, including Lake Cumberland and Fishtrap Lake in Pike County.

Hundreds visit Fishtrap Lake looking for a big catch, but researchers found high levels of mercury and PCB's in the fish, and say eating too much will make you sick. Fishermen we talked to say they'll quit eating what they catch, but it won't stop them from fishing.

Chris Coleman visits Fishtrap Lake a lot, trying to make a catch.

"We mostly fish for bass, but if anything is biting, we'll go after it," Coleman said.

He says he and his family eat what he catches, but not anymore. State health officials found high levels of mercury and other contaminants in Fishtrap Lake's bass, suckers, and catfish, and park rangers warn people should limit how much fish they eat from the lake.

"You don't know what can be harmful to you, so it's just better to take the precautions instead of having to worry about it," said Fishtrap Park Ranger Glenda Robinson.

Robinson is taking her own advice. She's pregnant and doesn't want to risk it.

"I'll be very careful at how much fish I consume right now during this time," Robinson said.

She and other Fishtrap managers are monitoring the water and contaminants, but say recent mine discharge into the water is not causing the problem.

"Neither of these contaminants is associated with that, with the Consol Energy at Grundy, Virginia," Robinson said.

Fishermen are taking the warning seriously, but they aren't leaving Fishtrap Lake.

"No, I'm gonna still fish and stuff like that. I don't know about keeping them to eat or anything, but I'll still fish for them,” Coleman said.

He says the consumption advisory won't affect his goal of getting a big catch.

Virginia issued the same warnings for the rivers in its state.

Health officials say if you really want to eat the fish, you should limit to once a month to make sure you don't get sick or other ill effects.

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