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Kansas Fish Consumption Advisories for 2024

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By the Kansas Department of Health and Environment 

 

  • TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (collectively, “Kansas”) is issuing fish consumption advisories for 2024. The following advisories identify types of fish, or other aquatic species, that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination. General advice and internet resources are provided to aid the public in making informed decisions regarding the benefits and risks associated with eating locally caught fish from Kansas waters.

    Definitions/Servings:

    • Bottom-feeding fish: buffalo, carp, catfish, sturgeon and suckers
    • Shellfish: mussels, clams and crayfish

    Serving size (skinless fish fillets before cooking):

    • Adults and children age 13 and older = 8 ounces
    • Children age 6 to 12 = 4 ounces
    • Children younger than 6 = 2 ounces

    Statewide Mercury Advisories for Fish:

    There are many health benefits associated with going outside and catching and consuming fish; however, all fish contain some amount of mercury. Consumption of mercury-rich fish can harm the development of fetuses, nursing babies, and growing children. As a result, anyone who routinely eats fish or serves fish to children, including store-bought fish, should carefully consider the type and amount of fish eaten. Therefore, mercury-sensitive individuals (women who are pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant, and children 17 or younger) should follow the guidelines presented below for eating Kansas-caught fish.

    Fishing and Eating Guidelines:

    • Eat smaller portions – a fillet about the size of your palm.
    • Eat fish species with less mercury (see “Preferred Choice Fish” chart below).
    • If you don’t know what type or size of fish you’ve eaten, wait at least one week before eating fish again.
    • When fishing, keep fish shorter than your forearm (fingertips to elbow) or less than 20 inches, as regulations allow. Visit Fishing Regulations / Fishing / KDWP – KDWP (ksoutdoors.com) for more information.


    Reduce the recommendations above if you tend to keep fish larger than 20 inches to:

    • Preferred Choice Fish – not more than 1 serving per week
    • Second Choice Fish – not more than 1 serving per month

    For specific questions or concerns about mercury in Kansas-caught fish, contact KDHE. For information about mercury in fish caught in other states, store-bought fish, and other types of seafood, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration EPA-FDA Advice about Eating Fish and Shellfish | US EPA website.

    Waterbody specific advisories for all consumers:

    Kansas recommends restricting consumption of bottom-feeding fish to 2 servings per month from the following location because of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):

    • Little Arkansas River from the Main Street Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita (Sedgwick County).

    Kansas recommends restricting consumption of bottom-feeding fish to 1 serving per month from the following locations because of PCBs:

    • Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River (Reno County).
    • K-96 Lake in Wichita (Sedgwick County).

    Kansas recommends restricting consumption of bottom-feeding fish to 1 serving per month from the following location because of arsenic:

    • Mill Creek from Madison Road east of Morrowville to confluence with Little Blue River (Washington County).

    Kansas recommends not eating specified fish or aquatic life from the following locations:

    • Antioch Park Lake South in Antioch Park, Overland Park (Johnson County); all fish due to pesticides dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, chlordane and dichlorophenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs).
    • Arkalon Park Lakes in Liberal (Seward County) – Kansas recommends not eating any aquatic life because the lakes are sustained solely by treated municipal wastewater.
    • Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine (Sedgwick and Sumner counties); bottom-feeding fish due to PCBs.
    • Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River (Douglas and Leavenworth counties); bottom-feeding fish due to PCBs.
    • Mill Creek from Washington (below 18th Road) downstream to confluence of Little Blue River (Washington County); shellfish due to arsenic.
    • Shoal Creek from the Missouri/Kansas border to Empire Lake (Cherokee County); shellfish due to lead and cadmium.
    • Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas/Oklahoma border (Cherokee County); shellfish due to lead and cadmium.

    Waterbodies affected by harmful algae blooms:

    To date, measured algal toxin levels in fish samples collected from waters affected by harmful algal blooms suggest the fish are safe to eat.  However, please take the following precautions:

    • Avoid skin contact with water.
    • Wear gloves when handling wet fish and equipment.
    • Rinse fish with clean water.
    • Remove skin from fillets and rinse with clean water prior to cooking or freezing.
    • Eat only skinless fillets.
    • Do not eat shellfish.

    General advice for reducing exposure to chemicals in fish:

    • Keep smaller fish to eat (regulations permitting) and let the big ones go.
    • Avoid eating fish parts other than fillets.
    • Trim fat from fillets and/or use cooking methods that allows fat to drip away.
    • Avoid subsistence fishing (relying on wild-caught fish for daily nutritional needs) in rivers within or immediately downstream of large urban/industrial areas.
    • Do not eat fish or aquatic life from wastewater outfalls, waste treatment lagoons or stormwater retention ponds.

    Other information from KDHE, KDWP, EPA, and the American Heart Association

    To view the advisories online – and for information about KDHE’s Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program –  Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program | KDHE, KS.

    For information about fishing in Kansas – including licensing, regulations, fishing reports and forecasts –  Fishing in Kansas | KDWP.

    For information about the health benefits and risks of including fish in your diet, visit Eating fish twice a week reduces heart, stroke risk | American Heart Association.

    For technical information regarding the U.S. EPA risk assessment methods used to determine advisory consumption limits, visit EPA Guidance for Developing Fish Advisories | US EPA.

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