DNR’s Lake Finder Updated With Data Encouraging More Fish Consumption

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Lake Finder, the Web site that provides information about specific lakes, now includes newly revised fish consumption data that encourages people to eat more fish.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) revised its fish consumption advisory to include a large new body of data on contaminants in fish from Minnesota lakes and rivers. The advisory also is in a new format designed to make it easier to understand.

Previous guides indicated that consumers should eat fish that had a once-per-week recommendation or a meal of fish from the once-per-month category but not both. Now, MDH is advising consumers that they may eat fish from the once-per-week category and the once-per-month category.

“Additional data and a thorough analysis show that this slight change will still be safe for people eating fish,” said Pat McCann, an MDH environmental health researcher and coordinator of the fish consumption advisory.

“The health benefits of eating more fish are clear,” said Ron Payer, DNR fisheries section chief. “Those health aspects combined with the many opportunities Minnesota offers to get outdoors, have fun and discover the joys of fishing create ideal opportunities to catch quality time with family and friends.”

Health experts, including MDH, recommend eating one to two meals of fish per week. Fish are a good low-fat source of protein and eating fish may help protect adults against cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women and women who may become pregnant should also eat fish because it promotes eye and brain development in fetuses.

For more than 20 years, the fish consumption advisory has helped Minnesotans choose which species of fish to eat and how often in order to minimize their risks from contaminants in fish while gaining the many health benefits from eating fish.

This year’s edition of the advisory includes a substantial amount of new data collected from numerous species of fish from more than 250 lakes and rivers. The advice for specific lakes and rivers in the advisory has been redesigned to include information on three contaminants instead of the previous two. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) joins mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as one of the contaminants that can affect how much fish people should eat. The tables also include changes in how meal advice is displayed.

“The changes to this year’s guide represent the biggest change in the advisory format since it was first published in 1985, and reflect a great amount of cooperative work between MDH, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the DNR and the Department of Agriculture (MDA),” said Commissioner of Health Sanne Magnan.

For this advisory, MDH staff analyzed and interpreted laboratory results from approximately 4,500 samples of fish tissue, more than twice the usual amount. The data came from field collections in 2006 and 2007 by the DNR and the subsequent analysis of PCBs and mercury in fish tissue by the MDA. The increased collections and analysis were made possible in part by funding from the Clean Water Legacy Act of 2006.

The fish advisory is available online from the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov/lakefind and from MDH at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/fish/eating/sitespecific.html.

Additional information about the MDH fish consumption advisory is available at www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/fish060308.html.