Most alerts issued out of governmental entities tend to warn residents about something that could be harmful, that’s what makes today’s announcement regarding Antelope Lake a welcome change.
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a state fish advisory for Antelope Lake noting that it provides safe eating advice for black bass species, bullhead species, Golden Shiner, and sunfish species.
Plumas News contacted the agency to inquire about what makes Antelope Lake different than other lakes. Why was a press release generated for Antelope?
“We develop site-specific advisories as sufficient fish sampling data becomes available and prioritize based on potential for public health benefit. In general, we prioritize water bodies where fish are found to have higher levels of mercury or other contaminants. However, we may also prioritize those with low contamination, like Antelope Lake, so people know where it’s safe to fish,” said a spokeswoman for the organization.
“We have issued site-specific guidance for over 100 California lakes, rivers, bays, reservoirs, and coastal areas and are regularly adding more. In Plumas county, there are site-specific advisories for the upper Feather River and Lake Almanor, in addition to Antelope Lake. For waterbodies without site specific guidance, we also provide statewide advisories for lakes and reservoirs and for coastal locations.
According to the agency, the fish species tested at Antelope Lake had lower contaminant levels than is typical at many other California water bodies. All species tested at Antelope Lake can be eaten at least two times a week.
“Many fish have nutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease and are excellent sources of protein,” said OEHHA Director Dr. Lauren Zeise. “By following our guidelines for fish caught in Antelope Lake, people can safely eat fish low in chemical contaminants and enjoy the well-known health benefits of fish consumption.”
When consuming fish from Antelope Lake, the following advice is issued:
- Women ages 18 – 49 and children ages 1 – 17 may safely eat a maximum of seven total servings per week of bullhead species, Golden Shiner, or sunfish species; or two total servings per week of black bass species.
- Women ages 50 and older and men ages 18 and older may safely eat a maximum of seven total servings per week of bullhead species, Golden Shiner, or sunfish species; or six total servings per week of black bass species.
One serving is an eight-ounce fish fillet, measured prior to cooking, which is roughly the size and thickness of your hand. Children should eat smaller servings. For small fish species, several individual fish may make up a single serving.
A poster with the safe eating advice for Antelope Lake is available on OEHHA’s website in both English and Spanish. For fish species found in Antelope Lake that are not included in this advisory, OEHHA recommends following the statewide advisory for eating fish from California lakes and reservoirs without site-specific advice.
Mercury is released into the environment from mining and burning coal. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing children and fetuses. Because of this, OEHHA provides a separate set of recommendations specifically for children up to age 17 and women of childbearing age (18 – 49 years).
OEHHA’s fish advisory recommendations are based on the levels of contaminants, such as mercury, that persist in the environment and accumulate in fish. They are independent of any advisories to limit fish intake due to freshwater or estuarine harmful algal blooms (HABs). Before fishing, check the California HABs Portal to see if there are recommended HAB advisories and always practice healthy water habits.
Eating fish in amounts slightly greater than the advisory’s recommendations is not likely to cause health problems if it is done occasionally, such as eating fish caught during an annual vacation.
The Antelope Lake advisory joins more than 100 other OEHHA advisories that provide site-specific, health-based fish consumption advice for many of the places where people catch and eat fish in California, including lakes, rivers, bays, reservoirs and the California coast. Advisories are available on OEHHA’s Fish Advisories webpage.
OEHHA’s mission is to protect and enhance the health of Californians and the environment through scientific evaluations that inform, support, and guide regulatory and other actions in the state.