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Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:50

Fishermen to hear report on mercury and walleye

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Fish biologists will discuss mercury contamination in fish in mountain lakes at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Swain Campus of Southwestern Community College.

The talk will also discuss other issues related to lake fish populations and lake fishermen.

State testing of walleye in Fontana and Santeetlah lakes two years ago showed high levels of mercury. It is unsafe for children under 15 or a pregnant or nursing woman to eat walleye from the lakes in any quantity. The general population should eat no more than six ounces a week, according to state health officials, or no more than one meal a month, according to the more stringent EPA suggestions.

Fontana and Santeetlah are the only two mountain lakes tested so far, and walleye is the only species that’s been tested. There is reason to believe other large fish species and other mountain lakes could also contaminated.

The mercury, a pollutant from coal-fired power plants, travels through the atmosphere and is rained out of the clouds. The larger the fish, the more mercury they have likely acquired through bioaccumulation.

Representatives from N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, including biologist Powell Wheeler who conducted most of the sampling, will give a talk geared toward fishermen. Topics will include gill netting, status of walleye population, mercury levels, new boat ramps, catch and release survivability and more.

The SCC building is located on the right side of U.S. 23-74 if traveling south from Bryson City, across from Mountain Lakes Marine.

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