Sierra reservoirs are at capacity after a wet winter, and the summer fishing season is in full swing. As anglers head to local water bodies, The Sierra Fund is making sure they have access to important information about which fish are safe to eat.
TSF is gearing up for our third annual Post It Day event, a volunteer-powered effort to post state-issued fish consumption advisories at regional lakes and reservoirs.
On Saturday, August 5, 2017 volunteers will visit ten water bodies in the Sierra to check up on fish consumption advisories posted over the last two years, and to post the guidelines in Spanish for the first time. Local agencies including the Tahoe National Forest and the Nevada Irrigation District are doing their part to keep recreators informed by posting the advisories at fishing locations under their purview.
Fish consumption advisories are issued by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and provide “safe eating guidelines” for fish based on the level of contaminants in fish tissue, including mercury. This year, OEHHA translated the advisories relevant to TSF’s Post It Day project into Spanish and as a result the guidelines are now available in two languages.
TSF CEO Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin is excited about the project’s progress, noting “Each year we cast a wider net on the audience receiving this important public health information. In 2015 we posted the advisories for the first time at nearly 30 lakes and reservoirs. In 2016 we held a free educational event geared towards families, especially women and children who are more susceptible to the health impacts of mercury. This year we are enhancing regional environmental justice by posting advisories in Spanish.”
This event would not be possible without the dedicated effort of community volunteers. If you want to help post advisories at popular fishing locations, sign up online or contact Kelsey Westfall, (530) 265-8454 x217, firstname.lastname@example.org.
TSF thanks event sponsors South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and Wolf Creek Community Alliance (WCCA), who have supported this project since its inception in 2015, and OEHHA for translating numerous fish consumption advisories into Spanish for our project.
Mercury in Fish
Eating mercury contaminated fish is the primary human exposure pathway to mercury. This is particularly relevant in the Sierra, where historic mining activity left a legacy of mercury contamination. In aquatic environments, elemental mercury is converted by bacteria into a form called methylmercury, which is bioavailable and can enter the food web, impacting fish and the humans who consume them.
The Yuba, Bear and Feather watersheds are located in some of the most heavily mining-impacted regions in the state. Volunteers will post fish consumption advisories in these three watersheds and several other locations on Saturday, August 5, providing the public with information to make safe choices about eating locally caught fish.