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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Delaware issues updated fish consumption advisories

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 Contact: DNREC Public Affairs, Melanie Rapp, 302-739-9902,
               DHSS: Rita Landgraf, Secretary; Jill Fredel, Director of Communications, 302-255-9047,
               Pager 302-357-7498, Email: 

Delaware issues updated fish consumption advisories
Updated advisories for the Army Creek and Pond, Appoquinimink River, Drawyer Creek
and Silver Lake in Middletown reflect long-term environmental improvements

DOVER (Sept. 11, 2015) – Updated fish consumption advisories for fish caught in Delaware waterways were announced today by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health. The new, less restrictive advisories for fish caught in four waterways in southern New Castle County – the Army Creek and Pond, Appoquinimink River, Drawyer Creek, and Silver Lake in Middletown – were drawn from recent analyses of chemical contaminants in fish caught at these locations.

Many of the contaminants that prompt fish advisories in Delaware are “legacy pollutants” – chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the banned insecticide DDT, and dioxins and furans that were released into waterways in significant quantities in the past. These legacy pollutants are slow to break down in the environment and can accumulate in fish and in bottom sediments of lakes, streams and estuaries.

The improvements we’re seeing in these updated advisories are a result of Delaware’s investment over time in technologies and practices along with stringent regulatory standards aimed at cleaning up our waterways,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “While significant improvements are slow in coming, the cooperative efforts of our state, federal, local, and industry partners to address contaminants in our waterways are making a difference. Our goals are to continue to accelerate the cleanup of remaining contaminants through new and innovative approaches and ultimately lift advisories when they are no longer necessary.”

“I applaud DNREC’s ongoing efforts to clean up our state’s waterways, which, in turn, reduces the restrictions on fish consumption,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf. “We know that eating fish is an important part of a healthy diet because they contain high-quality proteins along with other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. This updated advice will help all of us make informed decisions about the right amount and right kinds of fish that our families should eat from Delaware’s waterways.”

The fish consumption advisory for Army Creek and Pond was updated as less-restrictive due to falling levels of PCBs, dioxins and furans and is consistent with similar findings in other Delaware waters over the last several years. For the general adult population, the current advice was revised from “Eat no more than two eight-ounce meals of finfish per year” to “Eat no more than four eight-ounce meals of finfish per year.” The new advisory covers Army Creek between U.S. Route 13 and the mouth of the creek, including Army Pond.

Also less restrictive is the updated advisory for the Appoquinimink River for the area between Route 299 in Odessa downstream to the mouth of the river. The advisory, in place since 1999, was changed from “Eat no more than one eight-ounce meal of finfish per year” to “Eat no more than two eight-ounce meals of finfish per year.” The modified advisory reflects a modest improvement in some contaminants, including dioxins and furans and DDT.

A less-restrictive advisory is also being issued for Drawyer Creek, the largest tributary of the Appoquinimink River, based on recent data on lower concentrations of PCBs and DDT in the fish caught there. Like the Appoquinimink River, the fish consumption advisory, in place since 1999, of “Eat no more than one eight-ounce meal of finfish per year” was revised to “Eat no more than four eight-ounce meals of finfish per year” and reflects overall long-term improvements in the creek.

Finally, the fish consumption advisory for Silver Lake in Middletown was updated as a result of significant reductions in PCBs, dioxins and furans, dieldren and DDT in fish caught in the lake. A consumption advisory of “Eat no more than one eight-ounce meal of finfish per year” was updated to “Eat no more than twelve eight-ounce meals of finfish per year (or 1 meal/month). The new advisory reflects a major improvement in conditions at Silver Lake, Middletown.

Fishing is a popular recreational activity in Delaware and many people eat their catch. Although eating fish in moderation as part of a healthy diet may provide health benefits, fish can accumulate contaminants from the water, sediment and the food they eat. Contaminants may build up over time in fish even with extremely small amounts of chemicals in the water. The amount of contaminants in fish depends on the species, size, age, sex and feeding area of the fish. Chemicals, such as PCBs, mercury and dioxin in fish are a health risk for people who regularly consume their catch.

In addition to the advisories mentioned above, DNREC and DHSS remind the public of the general statewide fish consumption advisory issued in 2007: 

  • Eat no more than one meal per week of any fish caught in Delaware’s fresh, estuarine and marine waters. This advisory applies to all waters and fish species not otherwise explicitly covered by an advisory.

The statewide advisory is issued in an abundance of caution to protect against eating large amounts of fish or fish that have not been tested, or that may contain unidentified chemical contaminants. Delaware issues more stringent advice for specific waters when justified by the data. One meal is defined as an eight-ounce serving for adults and a three-ounce serving for children. 

People who choose to eat fish in spite of advisories can also take steps to reduce exposure. Contaminants tend to concentrate in the fatty tissue, so proper cleaning and cooking techniques can significantly reduce levels of PCBs, dioxins, chlorinated pesticides and other organic chemicals. Larger fish tend to have higher concentrations. To reduce the amount of chemical contaminants being consumed:

  • Remove all skin.
  • Slice off fat belly meat along the bottom of the fish.
  • Cut away any fat above the fish’s backbone.
  • Cut away the V-shaped wedge of fat along the lateral line on each side of the fish.
  • Bake or broil trimmed fish on a rack or grill so some of the remaining fat drips away.
  • Discard any drippings. Do not eat drippings or use them for cooking other foods.

However, these techniques will not reduce or remove unsafe levels of mercury from fish.

A chart which shows all fish consumption advisories for Delaware waters, including the revised advisories issued today, can be found on DNREC’s web site,

The revised advisories are not reflected in the 2015 Delaware Fishing Guide available at tackle shops and fishing license dealers. In addition to the web page, fish consumption advisory signs are posted along waterways.

For more information, contact Rick Greene, DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship, 302-739-9939.

Visit the following U.S. government websites for information on federal fish consumption advisories, on mercury in fish and shellfish, and on how to safely select and serve fresh and frozen fish.

Vol. 45, No. 295

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