Are My Fish Safe To Eat?
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) issue revised fish consumption advisories annually. The advisories identify types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination. General advice and internet resources are also provided to aid the public in making informed decisions regarding the benefits as well as the risks associated with eating locally caught fish from Kansas waters.
- Bottom-feeding fish: buffalos, carp, carpsuckers, catfishes (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers.
- Predatory fish: black basses, crappies, drum, flathead catfish, perches, sunfish, white bass, wiper, striper, walleye, saugeye, and sauger.
- Shellfish: mussels, clams, and crayfish.
- General Population: Men and women 18 years of age or older.
- Sensitive Populations: Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and children age 17 or younger.
Meal size (before cooking):
Adults and Children age 13 and older = 8 ounces
Children age 6 to 12 = 4 ounces
Kansas recommends the following consumption restrictions because of mercury in fish:
- Sensitive Populations should restrict consumption of all types of locally caught fish, from waters or species of fish not specifically covered by an advisory to one meal per week because of mercury.
- Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass (black basses):
- Sensitive Populations should restrict consumption of these species to one meal per month because of mercury.
- General Public should restrict consumption of these species to one meal per week because of mercury.
Waterbody specific advisories for all consumers
Kansas recommends not eating specified fish or aquatic life from the following locations:
- The Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River (Douglas and Leavenworth counties); bottom-feeding fish because of PCBs.
- Horseshoe Lake located in units 22 and 23 of the Mined Lands Wildlife Area (Cherokee County); all forms of aquatic life including fish and shellfish because of perchlorate.
- The Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas/Oklahoma border (Cherokee County); shellfish because of lead and cadmium.
- Shoal Creek from the Missouri/Kansas border to Empire Lake (Cherokee County); shellfish because of lead and cadmium.
- Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River (Reno County); bottom-feeding fish because of PCBs.
- The Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine (Sedgwick and Sumner counties); bottom-feeding fish because of PCBs.
Kansas recommends restricting consumption of all types of fish to one meal per month from the following location because of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):
- The Little Arkansas River from the Main Street Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita (Sedgwick County).
General advice for eating locally caught fish in Kansas
- Sensitive populations should consider restricting their total mercury intake as related to both supermarket fish and locally caught species. Concerned parents and other persons may wish to consult with a physician about eating fish and mercury exposure.
- Mercury exposure can be reduced by limiting the consumption of large predatory fish. Larger/older fish of all types are more likely to have higher concentrations of mercury.
- Avoid the consumption of fish parts other than fillets, especially when eating bottom feeding fish. Fatty internal organs tend to accumulate higher levels of fat soluble contaminants such as chlordane and PCBs than fillets.
- Consumers can reduce their ingestion of fat soluble contaminants such as chlordane and PCBs by trimming fat from fillets, and cooking in a manner in which fat drips away from the fillet.
- In waterbodies where advisories or warnings related to harmful algae blooms have been applied, fish should be consumed in moderation and care taken to only consume skinless fillets. Avoid cutting into internal organs and as a precaution rinse fillets with clean water prior to cooking or freezing.
Internet resources from KDHE, KDWPT, EPA, FDA, and the American Heart Association