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Chris Piehler

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    By creatify on February 16, 2006

    In response to wil

    Wil, Andy and All:
    There is truth to the Oceana report on mercury, but often when trying to address “the whole world”, sometimes local facts are overlooked.  The Louisiana DEQ has a Mercury Program and works in partnership with DHH and Wildlife and Fisheries to sample, analyze and report on mercury in fish.  We did some significant marine fish sampling in the Gulf and have modified some of our fish advisories.  We are also trying to do a better job of getting the word out, which looks like may not be happening as well as we would like.  Mercury in recreationally-caught fish can be significant, but is not directly related to proximity to an industrial source as mercury can be transported in the atmosphere long distances and fall out in rain.  Water body characteristics determine whether mercury in water gets into fish.  There are quite a few fresh water bodies with advisories on them, but data on estuarine species (specks, reds, flounder, sheepshead, black drum) show they are the least likely to be affected.  Until recently, King Mackeral were the only Gulf Marine species to be subject to a consumption advisory in Louisiana, but a revision will soon take place to include cobia, black fin tuna and one other that escapes me right now (not unlike my fishing experiences).

    I am writing the Louisiana Mercury Action Plan to address this issue, and I can tell you that as a fellow fisherman, I’m taking it personally.  I would like to offer to speak at any group gatherings, association meetings and have done so in the past (e.g., Red Stick Fly Fishers) to get the word out on this important issue.  It is NOT the problem that some make it out to be, but you do need to know about it as young children and the unborn are the most susceptible.  It is an easily managed issue and we can all play a part.

    Please consider mercury advisories wherever you fish, the DEQ website has some good information on it and we are working to make it better (deq.louisiana.gov).  We have invited recreational groups to be involved with the plan development, but everyone has been a bit ‘distracted’ lately with the hurricanes and all. Let me know if you want the details.
    Mike Lane, thanks for the great website/venue.

    Chris M. Piehler
    LDEQ Senior Environmental Scientist
    aka “Scaulded Daug”     

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