For the first time ever, one of the region's most popular seafood items is on the "do not eat" list in Washington D.C. People are being advised not to consume eel, carp and striped bass, also known as rockfish, that are caught in District waters.
D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment put out an advisory because of the levels of PCBs and other chemical contaminants found in the fish.
PCBs are compounds that were used in electrical equipment before being banned in 1979. These chemicals take an extremely long time to break down.
The sediments of the Anacostia River in particular, but also the Potomac River to a lesser extent, are heavily contaminated with PCBs. They are decreasing slowly, mostly as less contaminated sediments cover the older sediments, but also due to some degradation.
Testing in 2013 found an alarmingly high amount of PCBs in D.C. rockfish. Experts thought it might have been a mistake, but new results that came in from 2015 confirmed the findings.
Now, officials say rockfish from the parts of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers which flow through D.C. should not be eaten for the foreseeable future.
This advisory applies to District waters only where you can only fish for personal use. There is no commercial fishing in D.C.
Still, these findings come as something of a surprise. We've known about sediments contamination there forever, but no advisories were issued for Striped Bass (a;though there is a general advisory against eating any fish caught in the Anacostia). Were they not analyzed? Has something changed in the system to expose the fish in the system to more of the PCBs from the sediment. Or do they finally have a large enough population of Striped Bass that it's become a problem.
Striped Bass spawn in areas like the upper tidal Potomac River, and the young spend about 3 years living relatively close to that area, before joining the migrating population that moves up and down the Bay, and out into the ocean and up and down the Atlantic coast.
PCBs are essentially permanent once taken up by fish. The slightly scary thing is that these fish are likely go out into the Bay and ocean and be mixed in with the population that is being fished for consumption by both commercial and recreational fisherman.
Linked in Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Half Price Chocolate Day Edition" at The Other McCain.