The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has issued a fish advisory for the Lower Mystic River area in Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, and Somerville to provide guidance on fish consumption.
The advisory says:
Children under 12, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and women that may become pregnant should not consume any fish in the area
Everyone else can eat bluefish and striped bass
Nobody should eat any other fish caught in this area
In addition, the advisory reminds residents that shellfishing is prohibited in this area.
The Lower Mystic River area, generally defined as the Mystic River below the Amelia Earhart Dam and the Chelsea Creek/River, is a popular fishing destination. Due to concerns about potential contaminants in the fish and a desire to provide specific guidance about consumption, DPH worked with the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) to understand fish consumption habits among residents and fish contaminant levels.
CLF and MyRWA found that people are catching and eating fish from the Lower Mystic River area and that subsequent fish testing found contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and arsenic. The fish were species that are native to the area, including American eel, flounder, rainbow smelt, striped sea robin, white perch, and skate.
“This advisory provides needed information to the communities of the Lower Mystic about the safe utilization of an important environmental and social resource,” said Marc Nascarella, director of the Bureau of Environmental Health’s Environmental Toxicology Program at DPH. “We look forward to working with our state and local partners to educate residents about the advisory.”
“Without clear information about what is safe to eat, people in the Lower Mystic River Watershed area are at risk,” said Alyssa Rayman-Read, vice president and director of CLF Massachusetts. “The advisory will ensure that people have the information needed to safely fish in the area. This kind of public-nonprofit collaboration should be a model for working on important environmental issues.”
Patrick Herron, executive director of MyRWA added: “By improving the information available to anglers who consume fish from the Lower Mystic, this advisory enables residents to safely take advantage of their abundant local resource. The unique partnership between DPH and our organizations was integral in ensuring that this important advisory reaches the people who will benefit most from the information.”
The angler survey and fish testing activities conducted by CLF and MyRWA in the Lower Mystic area were funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. CLF and MyRWA collaborated on this project with GreenRoots, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, Green Harbors Project at UMass Boston, and the Boston University School of Public Health.
Information about the advisory can be found here. For more information, contact the Department of Public Health at 617-660-5370.