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Survey finds fishermen do pay attention to fish consumption advisories


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Some people love to catch and eat lots of fish, but since the 1970’s, we’ve been warned about certain species of fish in specific waterways that may be more contaminated with poisonous substances like mercury or PCB’s.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Researcher is Pamela Imm has been surveying men over 50 who eat fish to find out if they pay attention to fish consumption advisories provided by the state. Imm says most of them are very aware of them. “It’s been very encouraging to learn that this population, generally, is very aware of our fish consumption advisories. In addition to that, they’re awareness and their level of knowledge is associated with some behavioral changes that may lessen their health risk.”

Imm says the men surveyed did make decisions about fish consumption based on the advisories. The most common decision made by fishermen was to catch fish in cleaner bodies of water. “The more common behavioral changes due to their concerns with chemical contamination has been to alter the water bodies where they catch and eat their fish. So, they may not always eat fewer fish, or change the species of fish that they’re eating, but they’ll change their location.”

The survey data has been published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal. The Department of Health Services will work with the Department of Natural Resources to study the data. They will then decide how to better inform the public about fish consumption advisories.

Imm says future outreach efforts may include reaching out to medical providers, who can offer basic information about fish consumption to patients. The Department of Health Services is also considering changes to their website to make it easier for the public to find the information.