ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Fish consumption advisories help anglers in New York State make educated choices about eating the fish they catch. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued updated advisories Tuesday for the consumption of fish from water bodies in the State.

This year’s biggest change included updated regional advice for the Adirondack Region allowing all family members to eat fish from every Adirondack Park water. Based on over a decade of data from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the new Adirondack advice also reduces the number of specific advisories anglers must consider while protecting themselves and their families from mercury in fish, a long-term concern in the region. Eleven other updates were made to waters across the state.

“The Adirondacks are among New York’s most popular fishing and tourist destinations and this update is fantastic news for people who enjoy fresh-caught fish,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We have had longstanding guidance for eating fish caught from the Adirondacks and we are pleased to be able to simplify our health advice for this region making it easier for anglers to follow while continuing to protect families.”

In the past, the Department has issued 66 separate fish advisories for waters in the Adirondacks for similar fish, like walleye, smallmouth bass, or largemouth bass, making it inconvenient for anglers. New Adirondack advice streamlines the number of specific advisories to 16 and provides options for women and children to eat up to a half-pound meal per month, even from those waters with specific advice.

This is a major pivot from previous advice, which restricted women and children from eating any fish from a water with a specific advisory. Among the new choices are some of the most popular fish for eating, including brook trout and rainbow trout. The updated Adirondack guidance also recommends avoiding eating yellow perch greater than 10 inches, walleye, chain pickerel, lake trout, rock bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and northern pike.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC’s decades of work to improve air quality in the Adirondacks has led to less acid deposition and mercury in our waters, which means healthier fish.  DEC will continue to track contaminants in fish in New York waterbodies to ensure the protection of public health and the environment and we’re excited that more fish will be available for safe consumption.”

The Department continues to simplify its advice- providing more options for women and children to consume fish and reducing the number of individual fish advisories for waters across New York State. This approach has already been applied to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and this year adds the entire Adirondack Park Region and the Mohawk River.

Fishing is a very popular activity and fish are an important part of a healthy diet. However, some fish contain chemicals at levels that may be harmful to humans. Each year, the New York State Department of health updates its health advice due to concerns about contaminants in fish like mercury and PCBs. The advice helps people make healthier choices about which fish to eat and which to avoid.

Women who become pregnant and eat highly contaminated fish may be at a higher risk of having children with developmental or learning delays. Children who eat a lot of contaminated fish may also have the potential for negative effects on their development. Older adults may face fewer health risks from these chemicals, so the advice encourages them to enjoy these sport-caught fish more frequently.

Mercury is the chemical most commonly seen in the Adirondacks. It occurs naturally but is also released into the environment from distant sources like coal combustion. New York State is a national leader in preventing the emission of mercury and other pollutants that cause contamination in wildlife and in people. Testing of fish in the Adirondacks, Catskills and some New York State reservoirs has shown certain fish have higher levels of mercury than in other parts of the State.

Based on an annual review of the data, the Department adjusts advice about eating locally caught fish each year. This year, the Department changed its advice for several water bodies across the State.

Updated fish advisories for 2022:

All Adirondack Waters

Other waterbodies with new regulations for 2022:

Leatherstocking/Capital Region

  • Mohawk River/Erie Canal

Locally, between Fivemile Dam (downstream of Little Falls) and Cohoes Falls:

FishMen over 15 & women over 50Women under 50 & children under 15Chemicals of Concern
Brown bullhead, Bluegill, Blueback herring, Rock bass, Smallmouth bass, Walleye, Yellow PerchUp to 4 meals/monthUp to 4 meals/monthHealthy choice fish2
All other fishUp to 4 meals/monthUp to 1 meal/monthPCBs
Data from New York State DOH/DEC.

Finger Lakes Region

  • Coldbrook Creek
  • Owasco Lake

Western Region

  • Buffalo River and Harbor
  • Eighteenmile Creek
  • Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River

Hudson Valley Region

Hoosick River from Schaghticoke Dam to VT state line

FishMen over 15 & women over 50Women under 50 & children under 15Chemicals of concern
Bluegill, Yellow perchUp to 4 meals/monthUp to 4 meals/monthHealthy choice fish4
Rainbow trout, Smallmouth bassUp to 1 meal/monthUp to 1 meal/monthPCBs
Brown troutGreater than 14″, DON’T EAT; Less than 14″, up to 1 meal/monthGreater than 14″, DON’T EAT; Less than 14″, up to 1 meal/monthPCBs
All other fishUp to 4 meals/monthUp to 1 meal/monthPCBs
Data from New York State DOH/DEC.
  • Lake Welch
  • Saw Mill River
  • Pepacton Reservoir
  • Mohawk River/Erie Canal
  • East Branch Reservoir

Long Island Region

  • Big Reed Pond