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Hi, I'm a reporter working on a news story for Great Lakes Now about a recent scientific study, which found that although mercury pollution in the Great Lakes has been reduced substantially over the past few decades, most large fish, like lake trout, are still contaminated. The mercury levels in fish are not coming down as quickly as might be expected - largely because the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels has forced the fish to change their food source to prey that remain high in mercury. The paper can be found here: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2019/10/29/1907484116.full.pdf

I'm looking for someone with experience fishing on the Great Lakes who has time for a quick chat about this issue sometime in the next few days. I'm interested in how mercury contamination has affected the sport fishing community on the Great Lakes, and what some solutions might be. You can contact me at [email protected]

Thanks for your help,
Brian

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Honestly I don't think too many people worry about it. 

I know when we eat fish we tend to eat the smaller ones, of the shorter lived species so there's less accumulation.  But I have a friend who processes and eats a lot of fish and he thinks nothing about putting some 10-20# lake trout in the smoker.  I've caught a couple tagged large lake trout that were 15-20 years old, so if any fish out there is going to be full of mercury, it's those.

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If I had my choice, I'd like mercury levels to be zero. However, for some reason, the fish in the Great Lakes are easy targets. Any time there's a slow news day, out trots a story about how horrible the Great Lakes trout and salmon are to eat. What about tuna fish - plenty of mercury there. Also in swordfish, also in commercially caught walleye and perch in Lake Erie.

These stories have been around since the 70s. That's 50 years. One would think if there was a spike in cancer, cerebral palsy, birth defects or other diseases around the Great Lakes someone would have put two and two together and figured it out. 

 

One of the reasons mercury levels aren't lowering is because a good deal comes from natural or environmental sources. Doesn't make it good. Consider risk assessments. A meal of lake trout carries about the same risk as smoking a cigarette. About the same as walking around for a few hours in downtown Chicago. About the same as a chest X-Ray.  

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