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July 26, 2011

MADISON -- Wisconsin's updated fish consumption advice for 2011 is available online and printed copies are available at Department of Natural Resources service centers and regional offices.

DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services, examines new data, along with data from recent years to re-evaluate the fish consumption advice every year and issue an updated copy of Choose Wisely: A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin" [PUB-FH-824, PDF 2.85MB].

Wisconsin has one set of consumption guidelines covering all inland waters that recommends: women of childbearing age and children 15 and under to limit their meals of panfish to one per week and game fish to one per month (with the exception of musky, which they should not eat). Men and older women are advised to limit their game fish meals to one per week with the exception of musky, which they should eat no more than once a month.

There are certain waters that carry their own specific, more stringent advice because fish from those waters are found to have higher levels of either mercury or PCBs, according to Candy Schrank, Department of Natural Resources fisheries toxicologist. In 2011, as in past years, the changes have occurred on the list of waters based on data collected by DNR and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008-2010.

Specific, more stringent advice was removed for two waters -- Neshonic Lake in La Crosse County and the Upper Fox River from Swan Lake to Portage due to declines in PCB levels in fish, and advice was relaxed on the Lower Fox River reach from Little Lake Butte des Mortes to the De Pere dam, reflecting improvements since the PCB-manufacturing ban and remediation efforts on that river segment.

On the other end of the spectrum, four new waters have been added to the list needing specific, more stringent advice: Silver Lake in Barron County, Moose Lake in Sawyer County and Diamond Lake in Taylor County and a stretch of the Black River in Jackson County have been added due to higher concentrations of mercury. The additions do not mean contaminant levels have gotten worse, but that recent data confirmed the need for more stringent advice, Schrank says.

Minor changes to advice were made for four other lakes, relaxing advice on Butternut Lake in Price/Ashland counties and Lake Noquebay in Marinette County, and strengthening advice on the Brule River Flowage in Florence County and Turtle Flambeau Flowage in Iron County, Schrank says.

Dr. Henry Anderson, chief medical officer from the Department of Health Services, encourages people to read the advice and see if the waters they fish carry more specific recommendations than the general statewide safe eating guidelines.

"Fish are healthy for people to eat because they are low in saturated fat, high in protein and some species contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids," Anderson says. "But people should follow the fish consumption advice to reduce their exposure to environmental contaminants, and should consider keeping and eating the younger, smaller fish and letting the larger fish go."

Recent surveys and studies have shown that 83 percent of all Wisconsin adults eat fish, with some people exposing themselves to unsafe amounts of mercury by eating too much of the wrong kind of fish. Panfish, young fish and light tuna have lower amounts of mercury while canned white tuna, swordfish, and game fish like musky and walleye have more.

Video about fish consumption advice now available in Hmong, Spanish

New this year, Hmong and Spanish versions are available of a two-minute video about Wisconsin's fish consumption advice.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Candy Schrank (608) 267-7614; Dr. Lynda Knobeloch (608) 266-0923

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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