The state Department of Health, for the first time, has issued an advisory against consuming certain fish from Owasco Lake, warning they contain mercury levels that could adversely affect health.
The health department issued varying levels of warnings for yellow perch, smallmouth bass, walleye, rainbow trout, as they may contain unsafe levels of mercury.
Women under 50 and children under 15 are advised to not eat more than one half pound meal a month of yellow perch or rainbow trout greater than 10 and 20 inches, respectively, and no more than four meals a month of the same if less than 10 and 20 inches. People in the category should not eat it more than one meal a month of rainbow smelt and all other fish, and smallmouth bass or walleye should not be eaten at all.
For men over 15 and women over 15, up to four meals a month of yellow perch, rainbow trout, rainbow smelt and all other fish can be consumed, while smallmouth bass and walleye should only be consumed once a month.
According to a release from the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency, data from the state Department of Environmental Conservation showed higher mercury levels in walleye and smallmouth bass higher than those previously found in smaller fish.
Based on information from the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the release said, walleyes in Owasco Lake were older than walleyes found in other lakes, and older fish tend to have higher mercury levels than younger or small fish.