DPH Releases Annual Fish Advisory, “If I Catch It, Can I Eat It?” With Updated Guidance on Fish Caught on the Housatonic River

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By Milthon Lujan

USA.- The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the release of the 2017 edition of If I Catch It, Can I Eat It? A Guide to Safe Eating of Fish Caught in Connecticut. DPH has updated the guide in response to new sampling data that has indicated higher levels of fish contamination with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Housatonic River and the lakes – Lillinonah, Zoar and Housatonic – that are fed by the river. These PCBs are associated with the former General Electric Company (GE) transformer manufacturing facility in Pittsfield, MA. 

“The purpose of this DPH guide is to give advice on how to safely eat fish caught in Connecticut,” said Brian Toal, an Epidemiologist with DPH’s Environmental Health Section. “Fish are a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids, a nutrient thought to help protect people from heart disease and beneficial to the developing fetus. As a result, DPH recommends that the public continue to eat fish. However, certain guidelines should be followed in order to eat fish safely.”

The higher levels of fish contamination may be due to recent weather events and/or remedial work in the Pittsfield, MA area, located in the upper part of the Housatonic River watershed. The new data resulted in more restrictive advice for largemouth and smallmouth bass in Lakes Lillinonah, Zoar and Housatonic. Pregnant woman and children should not eat bass from the lakes and others should not eat more than one meal every 2 months. Fish sampling for PCBs in the Housatonic River will continue in future years and the consumption advisory will be reviewed annually based on that data.

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Both the English and Spanish versions of the guide are available at all tackle shops, local health departments, and town clerk offices. The guide also emphasizes store bought fish with a list of “good fish to eat and fish to limit or avoid.”

The standard advice for fish caught in Connecticut for high risk groups, like pregnant women and children, is to eat no more than one meal per month of freshwater fish caught in Connecticut. For all other groups, the advice is to eat no more than one meal per week of freshwater fish. This standard advice is due to mercury contamination found in Connecticut freshwater fish. In addition, there is a guideline that recommends limiting or avoiding striped bass and bluefish caught in Long Island Sound due to Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) contamination. The advisory guide also has a listing of the water bodies and species in Connecticut with specific consumption recommendations.

For more information or to obtain a copy of the update, please contact Sharee Rusnak at (860) 509-7740 or

If I Catch It, Can I Eat It? A Guide to Safe Eating of Fish Caught in Connecticut is available in both English and Spanish on the DPH website at:|/l47464

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