Fish Consumption Rule Criticized by Conservationists

Mar 31, 2015

Some environmental groups say new standards regarding proposed fish consumption rules in Washington State put citizens’ health at risk. The department of Ecology has just closed the public comment period on proposed rules for fish consumption rates in the state. 

The rules would result in a tightening of standards on the amount of pollution that could be released in state waterways.

The new proposal dramatically increases the average fish consumption standards form a little over 6 grams of fish per day per state resident, to 175 grams per day, about the size of a fish fillet. While that might seem like a lot to many residents, Ecology had upped the standards to include populations like Native Americans, and Asians who may eat even more fish than that in a day.

Several conservation groups and Native American representatives sent a letter to Ecology says that while they agree with the dramatic increase in the consumption rates, they found the new standards for acceptable cancer rates in the population to be completely unacceptable.

Jerry White is the Spokane River Keeper.

White: “They’ve gone from a cancer risk level of one case of cancer per million state residents to one case of cancer per one hundred thousand citizens who eat fish,  and that is not acceptable to us at all.”

Sandy Howard with Ecology says her agency is not yet offering any reaction to the many comments received during the public comment period that ended last week. But when the new strategy was announced last summer, Ecology’s Kelly Susewind said the plan is to make sure chemical releases into waterways do not increase.

Susewind: "If you just did that straight up, took the output of the numbers and plugged it into the equation, some chemicals equations would be allowed to be higher, we would allow more than we currently do. And the governor said that would not be acceptable to him, under no case would we allow more chemical pollution than we do today.”

In the letter to Ecology, the environmental groups say toxic chemicals like PCB’s would remain at current levels, which they believe are too high.