BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, or LDH, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, is issuing advisories for eight state waterways where elevated levels of mercury have been detected in the local fish.  These advisories recommend limiting the consumption of identified fish which may contain high levels of mercury.

Below is a list of waterways and associated fish species which are currently under advisory:

Bayou Nezpique:  Acadia, Allen, Evangeline, and Jefferson Davis parishes
• The area under advisory extends from the headwaters of Bayou Nezpique to the Mermentau River. 
• Largemouth bass and bowfin (choupique, grinnel)
Caddo Lake:  Caddo Parish
• Bowfin (choupique, grinnel)
Clear Lake (Lake Edwards):  Desoto Parish
• Bigmouth buffalo, black crappie, bowfin (choupique, grinnel) and largemouth bass
Cocodrie Lake:  Evangeline and Rapides parishes
• Largemouth bass, bigmouth buffalo, bowfin (choupique, grinnel) and black crappie
Crooked Creek Reservoir:  Evangeline Parish
• Largemouth bass
I-10 Canal, Work Canal and Bayou Bristow:  Iberville Parish
• The area under the existing advisory includes the canal that is between the Interstate 10 bridges (between Whiskey Bay and Ramah), and the canal known as Work Canal, which runs north to south and intersects the I-10 Canal.  This advisory has expanded to include Bayou Bristow.
• Largemouth bass, black crappie and bowfin (choupique, grinnel)
Old River (Niblets Bluff):  Calcasieu Parish
• The area under advisory includes the river’s headwaters to its confluence with the Sabine River.
• Freshwater drum, redear sunfish, spotted bass, largemouth bass, black crappie and bowfin (choupique, grinnel)
Saline Lake & Bayou:  Bienville, Winn and Natchitoches parishes
• The area under advisory is for Saline Bayou from its headwaters in Bienville Parish to, and including, Saline Lake in Winn and Natchitoches parishes.
• Black crappie, bowfin (choupique, grinnel), carp, freshwater drum, largemouth bass, longear sunfish, spotted bass and warmouth

To view the recommended guidelines for eating these fish in limited quantities, click here.  These recommendations vary for gender, age, women who are or may become pregnant, and by the species of fish being consumed.

These advisories are being issued as a precaution. Further sampling will be carried out by the Department of Environmental Quality to determine the need for modifications to this advisory, including an adjustment of the boundaries if necessary. It is not likely individuals who have consumed species under advisory from these waters will be in any immediate risk. However, individuals are encouraged to consult their personal doctor if they are concerned.

Louisiana fish consumption advisories are based on the estimate that the average Louisiana resident eats four fish meals per month (1 meal = ½ pound). Adults that eat more than four meals of fish a month, and women of child-bearing age and children that eat more than one meal of fish a month from local waterbodies, might increase their health risks.

Mercury is an element that occurs naturally in the environment. It is released into the environment through natural processes and human activities. Consequently, there are small amounts of mercury in lakes, rivers, and oceans. Nearly all fish contain trace amounts of mercury.

People are exposed throughout their lives to low levels of mercury. One way they can be exposed to mercury is from eating contaminated fish. Pregnant women can pass mercury from the fish they eat to their unborn babies, and nursing mothers can pass the mercury to their infants through their breast milk.

Health effects from harmful levels of mercury can include nervous system and kidney damage. Developing fetuses are more sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. In addition to developing fetuses, infants and children are more sensitive to the effects of mercury; therefore, consumption advisories are issued at lower fish tissue concentration levels for these groups.

For more information about eating fish which contain chemicals, contact the Office of Public Health toll-free at 1-888-293-7020.