On Saturday, August 5 a host of community volunteers traveled to popular fishing locations in the Sierra to increase access to information about which locally caught fish are safe to eat. Ten volunteers organized by The Sierra Fund posted over thirty state-issued fish consumption advisories in two languages at nine water bodies in five Sierra watersheds. This is the first time the guidelines have been posted in Spanish at these locations.
TSF Outreach Coordinator Kelsey Westfall has planned “Post It Day” for the last three years and notes, “I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of our third annual event. Our volunteers were so engaged, asking questions and raising great points during the training, educating the interested public in the field and coming back with suggestions for improving the posting effort in the future. I am grateful to live in a community where people are interested in promoting environmental literacy and environmental justice.”
The fish consumption advisories are issued by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and outline how many servings per week of different species of fish can be safely consumed, based on mercury levels in fish tissue.
Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund, is excited to post the advisories in Spanish for the first time: “we know through surveying local anglers that Spanish speakers fish here, and that they may be subsistence fishing to supplement their food budget. We want to make sure this project responds to what we’ve learned about the demography of groups utilizing the beneficial uses of our waterways.”
Post It Day is just one of TSF’s projects around the issue of mercury in fish. We have surveyed hundreds of anglers in the region to learn more about which fish are being consumed and in what quantities, and to understand if posting fish consumption advisories is an effective way to change angler behavior. We will soon update our 2011 Angler Survey Report with new data collected over the last year, which will inform whether there is a need to translate regional fish consumption advisories into additional languages.
Furthermore, TSF has caught over 200 fish to test for mercury, with the goal of filling data gaps for OEHHA to issue additional site-specific fish consumption advisories.
Over the next year, we will take our Posting Protocol document, developed from lessons learned over the first two years of Post It Day, on the road to encourage community organizations and agencies to launch a fish advisory posting effort in their area. We are also working to develop a Spanish language public service announcement to reach a wider audience of potential subsistence anglers with information about which fish are safe to eat.
For more information about these projects, visit our website at www.sierrafund.org. TSF thanks Post It Day sponsors South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and Wolf Creek Community Alliance (WCCA) and our dedicated volunteers for making this event a huge success.
Fish consumption advisories for water bodies in the state of California can be accessed at OEHHA’s website, www.oehha.ca.gov/fish. Thanks go to OEHHA for translating the relevant advisories in our project area into Spanish for Post It Day 2017.