MORE POISONOUS MERCURY IN FLORIDA'S FISH-Andrew Stelzer

06/22/04

Florida will soon be issuing warnings on eating fish high in mercury; there will include significantly expanded warnings for saltwater fish including snook and other local favorites. And, for the first time, commercially marketed fish will be included in the warning. In response, The National Wildlife Federation is working together with commercial fisherman to pressure the Bush administration to cut down on toxic mercury that’s polluting floridas waters. Today, on the North Pier of the Sunshine skyway in St Pete, several fisherman gathered to try and get the word out about their concerns about fish which come from polluted waters, because it will damage their ability to make a living.

ACT “recreational fishing ias a 4 billion dolar industry,

Jerry Karmas is with National wildlife action. ACT and they are adding three fish…

Over 95,000 people have submitted comments to the EPA, asking them to enforce environmentlal regulation and reduce the levels of mercury pollution by major industry. Acoording to the nationa wildlife federation, more than 10 million acres of lakes and 400,000 miles of Americans streams are contaminated.

ACT-Karmas “theres health problems to our wildife, and in children it learning loss, hyperactivity, memory loss…� Adult men now have been shown to be at risk of heart disease because of mercury, and Almost one in six pregnancies in the United States now is considered at risk of birth defects if the pregnant mather eats food with mercuy in it.Ann Vanek is with the Florida Wildlife foundation. ACT “I became involved when I was pregnant, my doctor told me not to eat fish that we catch every weekend. Its a sbig surprise.�

Ever since Florida's health department issued its first advisory on marine fish (sharks) in 1991, the state has used two-tier warnings under which children and child-bearing women are advised to eat one-fourth the amount of fish as other adults. Steve Salgado is a fishing guide who works out of Bradenton. He says government warnings against eating fish hurt fishermans business, and the solution is not to put more fish on the “do not eat� list, but to get rid of the mercury in the water. ACT “the fishing levels are good, ut we ned to get em down. If they have the means to do it they should. It protests the fish and that’s good for your career, a lot of people go to the restuarat and eat fish.� ACT “that just kind of sucks for me, I love to eat fish, my girlfriendsd eats fish what are we gonna do.

470 hunting and fishing organizations have signed a letter to EPA administrator Mike Leavitt, asking him to enforce the governments Clean air act, whch states that the government must reduce pollution by as much as possible. Ann Vanek says that President Bushs envoironmental polices constitute a half-hearted effort, which is against the law. ACT-vanek “the bush admin would have you believe that this hisnt real. New advirories have ben issued….the administration capo and trade scheme will only cut by 70 percetn in 20 years instead of Jerry karmas, from national wildlife action, says that he thinks the pressure is gaining on the president, because typically conservative hunting and fishing groups are calling for a major reduction in mercury pollution. ACY-karmas? Something else first…‘they have now interpreted dats adding to an advisory..what they recommend is 6 ounces, nobody can eat just 6 ounes…the family fish fry is under attack..�

WMNF asked some of the people fishing on the sunshine skyway pier whatthey knew about mercury, levels in the fish they were catching. ACT “what do you know about mercury levels in fish.? Nothing. Im from Ohio… What do you know about that..not much …I don’t know,…we come out fo rfun, we throw the fish back..theyre saying that mercury levels are going up and that sharmful for pregnant,…im a little old to be worried about pregnancy ..we catch the fish and if it was a great amount ..well I understand that tehyre a lot of fish that have mercury, I just catch em for the fun..im concerned its poisonous, as far as I know its due to industry that causes industry..you think thast gonna change..no I dotn..as long as we have industry were gonns have mercury and we need the power, I guess I don’t know..you don’t eat fish? Seldom, im a vegetarian. …I know from fishing with te lead it goes to the bottom of the ocean, it goes to the bottom and it contaminates and the mothers eat the fish and it contaminatew th body…whats responsible, fisherman and lead…yeah theyre saying that mercury comes from the power plants, I just like to fish for a hobby…I don’t eat it. So knowing theyre are pollutants doesn’t effect what you eat? No but it effects what I think…. …nothing… not a whole lot…how long you been fishin’ do you eat the fish..sometimes we eat em, sometimes we just throw em back…do you eat em? It nasty, I wouldn’t eat it. You guys know anything about mercury.

The letter asking for stricter enforcement of mercury pollution standards will be delivered to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt by June 30, the deadline for public comments on the mercury proposal. For more information about when fish is unsafe to eat, go to www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishadvice

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