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I Can Eat the Fish I Catch, Right?

by Austin Partin

One of my favorite memories that deals with food is always going fishing with my Papa
and keeping the fish that we caught throughout the day for dinner. My Papa had a little
houseboat that he kept docked at a marina on Karr Lake. My family and I would take either
weekend trips or take long vacations to the lake and spend the whole-time fishing and
swimming. Me, my Papa, and my brother would go out early mornings to start fishing for the
day and catch as many as we could out in the lake on my Papa’s bass boat. Then my brother and I would fish all day at the docks and keep all the eatable fish that we caught. Once we
were done fishing for the day and getting ready for dinner, my brother and I would watch my
Papa clean and cook the fish. He is an amazing cook so the fish tasted amazing every time. The
fish my Papa cooked itself is a good memory but the best and most important memories when it
comes to those fish is spending time with my grandpa fishing all day and spending time with him
at the lake.

Many studies over the years have come out about the chemical pollutants that the fish are
exposed to within the waters and how people can contract these chemicals by eating the fish.
These chemicals can range depending on the water that the fish is caught in, but the main
chemicals reported through fish would be mercery, PCB’s, PBDE’s, lead, and dioxins
(Washington). The process of pollutants that enter the waters through runoff of soil or nearby
farms, wastes from work sites, and even through the rain. These types of chemicals can cause some
side effects such as problems in child development, birth defects, physical growth, child motor
development, reproductive ability, and some effects on kidneys and blood (Strycharz). These are
all serious side effects that are mainly found in people that have consumed high amounts of fish
and these chemicals will then build up in the person’s system which will then cause these side
effects. With the chemicals having to build up in a person’s system, normally these side effects would not show up from eating fish just once. It can be hard to stop eating fish due to the
possible side effects, and fish is seen as a good and healthy food source for meals (EPA).
Especially for athletes and anyone who exercises or lifts, fish is a good source of lean meat and
protein.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), is an organization that is
looking to clean and preserve the waters of the Great Lakes (Environmental 2021). The US
and this organization have teamed up with Canada to clean the pollution and to protect these
lakes in between the countries. These lakes are being polluted by runoffs, chemicals from farms,
discharges from industrial areas, and air pollutants that enter the water through any precipitation
(Environmental 2021).

Many families and friends create memories of spending time together fishing and eating
their fish on trips or even ordering fish from restaurants during vacations. If you want to continue
to eat fish there are plenty of things that you can do to limit the exposure to these harmful
chemicals. A couple things you could do is to be mindful of the water you are catching these fish
in, keep track of how big or old the fish are, what type of fish it is, and also clean the fish the
right way. There are also people that do not like eating fish, so the possibility of them coming
into contact with these chemicals is lower. But some lakes and rivers are used as water sources
to create water within water bottles or jugs. So, whether you eat fish or not, to preserve the
waters for the species that live within the lakes or rivers and the water quality there are little
things to help protect these lakes. You can stop littering or leaving trash within the environment
so it does not travel to the nearby water sources, pick up trash if you happen to walk by it, and
also limit the amount of air pollution you are creating. Doing these little things can help decrease the pollution within of these waters so that there can be many more memories created as well as a cleaner and healthier environment.

Contaminants in fish. Washington State Department of Health. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24,
2021, from
https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/Fish/ContaminantsinFish.

EPA Unites States Environmental Protection Agency. (2014, October). Should I Eat the Fish I
Catch? Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-
07/documents/english_updated_fishbrochure.pdf.

Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, October 25). Restoring the Great Lakes. EPA.

Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/restoring-great-
lakes.

Strycharz, K. (2021, January 12). Should anglers worry about toxic chemicals? Safer Chemicals,
Healthy Families. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from

https://saferchemicals.org/2015/09/17/should-sportsmen-and-women-worry-about-toxic-chemicals/.

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