Report shows fish caught in Broad River safe to eat
For those fishing the Broad River, the question might take quite a bit longer to ponder following a state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) report.
The state agency opted not to place restrictive consumption advisories on the body of water, deeming all catches from the Broad River — particularly the stretch in Cherokee County — safe to eat.
“Like all state and federal agencies that issue consumption advisories, we collect a large number of fish from an individual water body and determine the average tendencies of tissue in that fish population,” said a DHEC official in an e-mail statement to The Gaffney Ledger. “The resulting number is compared to the ‘standard’ and helps guide the decisions to list or not to list a species for a contaminant. It also helps guide the recommendations on meal frequency, such as ‘one meal per week,’ or ‘one meal per month.’
“We continue to sample statewide, and the Broad River is not under restrictive consumption advisories for fish.”
Advisories are species and water-body specific, according to DHEC, with multiple sampling locations used to help in the decision making process.
“For our advisory, we would take an average mercury reading for a single species collected in a water-body from the previous three years,” said the DHEC e-mail statement. “This could be from a single site, as may be the situation for a small reservoir, or multiple sites, as would be the case for larger reservoirs.”
Drifting into Cherokee County after originating in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Broad River flows for miles well outside of the area before merging with the Congaree River outside of Columbia. Among the many species of fish which call the body of water home are largemouth and smallmouth bass, redbreast and redear sunfish, whitefin shiner and silver redhorse.
Fish in a number of other bodies of water were given a clean bill of health, among them Lake Greenwood, Lake Monticello, Lake Murray and Lake Rabon, in addition to stretches of the Tyger River. However, this was not this case throughout the state.
“Data shows the Piedmont ecoregion has fish with lower levels of mercury, while our backwater rivers such as the Edisto and Little Pee Dee have some of the highest,” a DHEC official said. “Lake Hartwell in the Upstate has elevated levels of PCBs, as does Langley Pond in Aiken County. The Catawba River Basin has fish with lower levels of tissue PCBs but still high enough to trigger an advisory.
“As the state’s overseer of public and environmental health, we concern ourselves with the prevention of illness. If humans follow the consumption guidelines we propose, the risk of health problems can be reduced.”
For more information about the recent DHEC fish consumption advisory, visit: www.http://www.scdhec. gov/environment/water /fish/.