State officials offered fishers and fish-eaters a warning that two new lakes have been added to the bass consumption advisory list in South Carolina.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said spotted bass and largemouth bass in Lake Keowee are now included on the advisory list, as are spotted bass in Lake Hartwell, due to mercury levels found in tissue samples of those fish.
DHEC recommends that people eat no more than one meal per month of Lake Hartwell spotted bass and no more than one meal per week of spotted bass and largemouth bass in Lake Keowee.
“Fish caught in the state’s waters are safe to eat if people follow the fish consumption advisory guidelines,” says David Baize the chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Water despite the new additions to the advisory list.
Mercury enters water systems naturally but pollution causes these levels to be concentrated in certain streams and lakes. The largest source of mercury contamination comes from burning fossil fuels and waste. High amounts of mercury can accumulate in bass tissue due to their preying on fish that have smaller amounts. Mercury fish contamination is not just problem that afflicts South Carolina, but also plagues water bodies across the nation.
The overall number of safe eating guidelines has increased in the last 30 years all across the United States. In 1993 there were only 20 safe eating guidelines in the country, that number rose to 908 in 201 and 1,040 in 2011. There were 21 states in the U.S. with safe eating guidelines in 2011.
In 2010 the DHEC claimed that South Carolina ranked in the middle of the nation in terms of new mercury advisories and the number of consumption advisories for mercury levels in South Carolina fish decreased over the 15 years before the report. Some areas of the state tend to have more concentrated mercury levels than others. The natural ecosystems of the Pee Dee and Edisto River drainage basins favor bioaccummulation of mercury that result in higher levels of the heavy metal in fish.
To see a map of the contaminated fish in your area visit the Department of Health and Environmental Control website: http://www.scdhec.gov/fish/