Local News

May 8, 2013 11:32 PM by Mike Manzoni -- mmanzoni@kristv.com

State Issues Warning For Mercury-Tainted Fish

PORT ARANSAS -- The Texas Department of State Health Services on Wednesday issued a warning about mercury-tainted fish in the Gulf waters, urging pregnant women and young children to avoid several species of fish.

Fishermen and other city officials in Port Aransas, a popular destination for fishermen, said they are not too worried about the warning because tainted fish do not prevent people from fishing.

"You can always catch these [fish] and just turn them loose," said Glenn Martin, owner of Woody's Sports Fish. "As long as the people are aware of it and they maybe don't retain that particular species."

The species listed in the warning include: blackfin tuna, blue marlin, little tunny, crevalle jack, king mackeral, shark, swordfish and wahoo.

Pregant women, women who are nursing and children 12-years-old and under are advised not to eat the fish listed.

Lee Fuiman, director of the Fisheries and Mariculture Lab in Port Aransas, said many of the fish listed in the warning are larger species that have long life spans which increases their mercury exposure. "When they [the fish] eat something that contains mercury, it goes into their body and it stays there," he said. "They [the fish] eat more stuff [other fish], and it [mercury] accumulates."

While fishing tourism is popular in Port Aransas, the city's chamber of commerce does not expect the warning to dissuade fishermen. "There are plenty of other fish out there, particularly in the bays because all of these fish [listed in the advisory] come from the deeper waters," said Ann Vaughn, the president of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce.

According to the National Academy of Science, more than 60,000 babies are born each year with neurological damage from mercury exposure.

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