Some Native Americans says the new fish consumption rules being proposed in Washington are a step in the right direction, but may not go far enough. The state Department of Ecology has proposed changes to the fish consumption rates in the state.
If approved, 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 to 175 grams of fish per day, about the size of a fish filet, from the current standard of just over 6 grams of fish per day per state resident.
Ecology says the standards need to be updated because of the diets of native Americans and Asian residents. Jim Peters of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission says as a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, the amount of fish eaten per day is actually much higher than the 175 gram figure.
Peters: “Its really lower. Ours is more like 280 to 300 [grams per day], and the I believe the Spokane Tribe is as high as 800 grams per day.”
Even so, Peters says he understands how ecology came up with the number as an average of state consumption. Peters says he does have a problem with ecology’s proposal to raise the consumption rate, while at the same time changing the acceptable cancer rate from one case per million to one in one hundred thousand people.
Peters: "And especially to my kids, our youth. Our studies at Squaxin indicate that kids under age five eat more fish than adults do, and so our kids are going to be impacted the most because of their immune systems being built up.”
Sandy Howard with ecology says her agency is not yet offering any reaction to the many comments received during the public comment period on the new fish standards that ended last week.