PELL CITY -- Dr. John Guarisco, an environmental toxicologist for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said he hopes to have the new Alabama Fish Consumption Advisories updated and available to the public by May.
Guarisco spoke to about 40 people at the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association’s quarterly meeting Thursday night in the Pell City Civic Center.
He said the fish advisory is just that. It is not regulatory statute.
“We cannot tell you not to eat a fish,” Guarisco said. “It’s a recommendation to protect public health.”
The Coosa River, along with some of its tributaries, have fish consumption advisories. Logan Martin Lake is part of the Coosa River Basin and has several fish consumption advisories.
“An advisory can be general or specific,” Guarisco said.
He said an advisory could warn that children or pregnant women should not eat the fish from waters in a certain area.
Guarisco said fish samples are collected in the fall, when fish could store contaminates in their fatty tissues. He said biologists normally try to collect top water predators, like largemouth bass, and bottom feeders, like channel catfish.
The main concern for contaminates along the Coosa River Basin are PCBs and Mercury.
Guarisco said fish were collected from Choccolocco Creek, Logan Martin Lake, between Neely Henry Dam and Riverside, and the area near Logan Martin Lake Dam. He said toxicology reports are still pending for fish samples collected from those areas.
He said toxicology reports could show reduce levels of contaminates found in fish tissues, but it is doubtful that any advisories on Logan Martin Lake would be lifted because of the results. He said it takes back-to-back years of testing showing the absence or safe consumption levels of contaminants in fish before an advisory is lifted.
Currently, there is a no-fish-consumption advisory for all species of fish in Choccolocco Creek, from Oxford to Logan Martin Lake, because of PCBs.
Between Neely Henry Dam and Riverside, there is a fish consumption advisory for catfish weighing more than 1 pound because of the presence of PCBs. The advisory recommends people should not exceed consumption of one meal per month of catfish weighing more than 1 pound.
There is also a no-fish-consumption advisory for striped bass caught between Riverside and Logan Martin Dam.