DOH: Women and children can eat more fish from Lake Ontario

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York State Department of Health recently released new recommendations for women and children when it comes to the types and amounts of fish they can safely consume from Lake Ontario and other state waters.

According to NYSDOH, women under 50 and children under 15 can now eat up to four one-half pound meals per month of:

  • Brown bullhead
  • Rainbow smelt
  • Rock bass
  • White sucker
  • Yellow perch

And up to one half-pound meal per month of Lake Ontario salmon. This announcement also covers the Niagara and Saint Lawrence rivers. Other state waters still have strict recommendations on fish consumption, and you can read a full list here.

Prior to this announcement, it was recommended that women and children avoid certain kinds of fish due to the risk of high mercury levels and other chemical pollutants. It’s been said that some of these chemicals can be harmful for development in young children. The reason the state is easing up on its recommendations about fish consumption now is because of the state’s decades-long process of eliminating the use of industrial chemicals and cleaning up of contamination in state waters.

As a captain with Bullseye Charter out of Rochester, Larry Hammond has seen the improvements in Lake Ontario’s water quality firsthand.

"The lake is cleaned up a lot,” said Hammond. “When I was a kid, it was way more dirty, way more polluted, and nowadays we get clear water."

Hammond calls his vessel “the Cadillac” of trout and salmon fishing boats. He told News10NBC that the younger the fish, the less time it’s had to ingest harmful chemicals.

"Chinook salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout, are definitely preferable to eat,” said Hammond. “Lake trout you want to get a young one." He also recommends always trimming the belly fat off of any fish you catch, as that is where harmful chemicals tend to be stored.

“The salmon only live for three years, so they don’t have a chance to really get the heavy leads and the chemicals in them," said Hammond. "The bigger the fish, the worse chances of it not being as good tasting, and more chances of it having bad stuff in it."