State report: eat less fish from Kentucky waters due to mercury levels

If you and your family like eating fish caught in Kentucky waters, here’s a warning for you: New water samples that test for mercury reveal you shouldn’t eat freshwater fish every day.

A state report shows you should only eat one meal including a bottom feeder or pan fish per week. For predatory fish, you should only have one meal a month.

Bottom feeders include channel catfish, buffalo, carp, and drum. Pan fish include crappie, bluegill, and rock bass. Predatory fish include most bass, flathead and blue catfish, and gar.

Tuesday, Chad Barrett was prepping for a fishing tournament. Although this weekend is about the sport, he’s no stranger to catching fish for dinner. “We eat catfish, bluegill fish, crappie, white bass,” Barrett said

The new warning about mercury levels in the water says Barrett should limit his intake of his favorite fish, the bluegill, to one meal week. “I know a lot of folks, they probably eat it two, three, four times a week. They seem to be doing okay,” Barrett added.

He says he can fry fish better than catch them and, when summer hits, he plans to do a lot more of it. “They’ve come out with those studies over the years and always discussed about mercury and everything, but you don’t really hear a lot of people going to the hospital for it.”

Although Mark Marraccini with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife thinks you should take this warning seriously, he says the results are really not new. “I don’t think anybody will notice any difference," he says. "I think the fish in Kentucky are just fine, and we’re looking forward to some exciting times on the water.”

There are ways to reduce your risk for mercury contamination:

  • Fillet your fish and remove the skin.
  • Don’t eat fish eggs.
  • Grill or bake instead of frying.
  • Don’t reuse juices or fat from your catch.

Fish Lake in Ballard County is different. According to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website, you should only eat one bottom feeder out of that water a month.

To see a full list of fish consumption advisories, click here.

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