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DOEE Issues 2016 Fish Consumption Advisory

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contaminant levels in District fish show improvement; consumption limits remain in place 

(WASHINGTON, DC) February 10, 2016 – Today, the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) issued its 2016 Fish Consumption Advisory recommending that residents do not eat American eel, carp, and striped bass caught in District waters. The advisory stated that these fish have elevated levels of toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

According to the Advisory, other fish species caught in the District including sunfish, blue catfish, northern snakehead, white perch, largemouth bass, brown bullhead catfish, and channel catfish should be consumed only on a limited basis and in accordance with the District’s preparation guidelines. The preparation guidelines outline the importance of trimming away fat from the fish, and broiling or grilling the fish to allow remaining fat to drip away. 

“Our goal is to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “This Advisory helps ensure that residents who enjoy fish from District waters are aware of the health risks associated with consuming certain fish species.” 

DOEE has been monitoring fish contaminant levels in the District since 1980.  During this period, there has been a decrease in contaminant levels associated with some species of fish. As a result, the 2016 Advisory provides for increased consumption of certain species over the earlier advisory. For example, the recommended consumption limit for sunfish and largemouth bass has more than doubled since the first advisory was issued in 1994.  Catfish, once classified as “not to consume,” may now be eaten in limited quantities. “The decrease in our resident fish species’ chemical contaminant concentrations is encouraging,” said Director Wells. “But, there is still more work to be done and we must continue our ongoing efforts to improve the health of our waterways.”

The Advisory covers the portions of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers within District boundaries; it does not apply to fish raised for commercial purposes or those bought in stores, fish markets, or restaurants.

For more information see Fishing in the District.

CONTACT: Julia Robey Christian, PIO, (202) 741-0842 desk, (202) 450-7878 cell, julia.christian@dc.gov