Dept. of Health issues fish consumption advisory for Nottoway River

Blue catfish photo courtesy VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
By  | 

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has issued an advisory on eating blue catfish because of elevated mercury in blue catfish caught in the Nottoway River.

VDH says recent fish tissue sample results from the Nottoway River in 2017 and 2018 show mercury levels in blue catfish exceed the amount considered safe for long-term human consumption.

VDH advises eating no more than two meals a month of blue catfish taken from the Nottoway River.

The advisory stretches from the confluence with the Blackwater River at the Virginia-North Carolina state line upstream to State Route 619 near Purdy, including its tributary Assamoosick Swamp, Three Creek up to I-95, Rowanty Creek and its tributaries, Hatcher Rum up to I-85 and Arthur Swamp up to I-85.

VDH says, "Fish is an excellent source of protein and other nutrients. Most people’s fish consumption does not cause a health concern. However, high levels of mercury in the bloodstream of the unborn and young children may harm the developing nervous system."

Fish consumption advisories alert people to contaminants present in affected fish species, but do not prohibit people from eating fish. VDH says, "Because of the increased health risk to the very young and women who are pregnant or who may soon become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should not eat fish from this advisory area to avoid ingesting mercury."

The health department continues, "Over time, mercury builds up in fish tissue to levels that are many times greater than levels in the surrounding water. Therefore, while eating blue catfish from the area under advisory may pose a health risk, swimming or waterskiing is safe."

VDH recommends the following precautions to reduce any potential harmful effects from eating contaminated fish:

- Eat smaller, younger fish (within the legal limits). Younger fish are less likely to contain harmful levels of contaminants than larger, older fish.
- Eat fewer or smaller servings of fish.
- Try to eat different species of fish from various sources (i.e., different creeks, rivers and streams).
- Cleaning or cooking contaminated fish does not eliminate or reduce mercury.

Copyright 2019/WDBJ7. All rights reserved.