Oceana to Test Hundreds of Fish for Mercury Contamination at Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo | Oceana

Oceana to Test Hundreds of Fish for Mercury Contamination at Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

Press Release Date: October 2, 2009

Location: Dauphin Island, AL


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

— Recreational anglers at this year’s 3,000-participant Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo will work with Oceana to test for mercury contamination in hundreds of fish caught at the biggest saltwater fishing tournament in the nation, making this the largest and most varied mercury sampling ever done at this event.

The Alabama Deep Sea Rodeo, the oldest fishing tournament in the nation and a Gulf tradition since 1929, is unique because it offers scientists the opportunity to study at least 30 species of fish –- more than any other saltwater fishing tournament in the nation.

“Recreational anglers are among the hardest hit by mercury contamination in fish, according to the federal government,” said Jackie Savitz, director of Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign. “We want to give anglers and their families the facts they need to keep eating fish safely, while minimizing their mercury consumption.”

Oceana’s testing will help bolster the data available on mercury in Gulf fish. Test results will give Gulf anglers and the general public important information about potential risks and their best options for consuming fish caught in the region.

Dr. Kim Warner, Oceana’s marine pollution scientist, plans to test between 100 and 300 fish caught at the tournament. Oceana will make the test results public following the tournament.

Oceana, a sponsor of the event, will operate a booth at the Rodeo to provide information about mercury in seafood and give attendees the opportunity to sign up to receive the testing results as soon as they are published. Oceana staff will also survey Rodeo attendees about their consumption of Gulf fish and their awareness of mercury contamination in fish for which there are advisories. The survey results also will be made public following the event.

Oceana is working to prevent the release of additional mercury that can get into seafood by asking the nine remaining chlorine manufacturing plants still using and releasing tremendous amounts of mercury to convert to modern, mercury-free technology. Seven of the nine plants are within the Mississippi River drainage, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. To get more details about these plants, go to www.oceana.org/mercury and read Oceana’s report, Poison Plants, released in January.

“Recreational anglers are on the front lines on this issue since they are among the highest consumers of fish,” said Savitz. “With their help, we can minimize mercury exposure from fish consumption, and by cleaning up chlorine plants we can help solve the mercury problem once and for all. Americans have a right to know about mercury contamination in seafood, so Oceana has called on grocery stores nationwide to post warning signs wherever fish with mercury advisories are sold,” said Savitz.