WHAT: Oceana, the international ocean conservation organization and a sponsor of the 2005 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, will:
* work with recreational fishermen at the Rodeo to collect samples of an extensive number of fish species and test them for mercury contamination, and
* provide information about mercury contamination in fish to anglers and the public.
WHY: Because of their high fish consumption, recreational anglers and their families are among the hardest hit by mercury contamination in fish, according to the federal government. In 2003, 45 of 50 U.S. states issued mercury advisories for recreationally caught fish. However, little information on mercury levels in recreationally caught Gulf fish is available to inform the angler.
Oceana's testing project will help to inform recreational anglers of potential health problems. Oceana will also compile and distribute additional information to empower anglers to protect their families from mercury contamination.
The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is the largest and oldest saltwater fishing rodeo in the country and participants land more types of fish (more than 30 species) than at any other saltwater tournament in the country. This will allow Oceana scientists to study a large variety of fish.
Oceana is working to reduce the amount of mercury inputs to our environment by calling on the nine remaining chlorine manufacturing plants still using mercury-cell technology to convert to modern, mercury-free production methods. Seven of the nine plants are within the Mississippi River drainage area, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 15 and 16, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 17, 2005.
WHERE: The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo site on Dauphin Island, Alabama. Oceana's science team will be located at the weigh-in station of the Rodeo site.
WHO: Jackie Savitz, director of Oceana's Seafood Contamination Campaign. Dr. Kim Warner, Oceana marine scientist and mercury researcher, will be testing the fish.