Many Lakes Recommended For Fishing Have High Mercury Levels

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Editor:

In The Arizona Republic's full page Spring Fishing Guide only Pena Blanca Lake south of Tucson was mentioned as containing fish contaminated with mercury. Actually there are numerous waterways in Arizona that have fish in them that should not be eaten, especially by women of child-bearing age or children. Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Long Lake, Lyman Lake and others in the northern part of our state are contaminated. I recall a one-time-only report in the Republic from many years ago stating that Lake Powell's fish were mercury-tainted from a source unknown. At the time, the cause was thought to be the red earth prevalent in that location. National evidence now tells us that the main culprit is the coal-burning power plant. Nearly on a weekly basis, the outdoor section of that same newspaper recommends Alamo Lake in the central desert as a hot spot for catching lots of crappie and bass. This is written despite the fact that Alamo's fish contain unsafe levels of mercury. My letters to that paper questioning this practice went unpublished. Also, when visiting the above lakes, neither I nor my fishermen friends ever have noticed hazard signs posted anywhere we could see. That seems very wrong.

Certainly, recreation dollars help the state pay its bills and help stimulate the economy, and happily so. However, those benefits shouldn't happen at the expense of unwary fishermen, and women, and their families.

Personally, I enjoy fishing Roosevelt Lake, but before feeding those fish to my grandchildren, I need to know if the fish are safe to consume. The state should do a full study of all of the fisheries here in Arizona, disclose the findings to the public, and post ample signs at every site indicating whether or not the fish are safe to eat. I see this as common sense, but more importantly it is the state's obligation to protect its citizens. Those of you reading this who agree and can somehow help, please do so. Important changes need to happen quickly.

John Pauley, Payson

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