BUI i Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption
What was the original problem? Some species on the Hamilton Harbour advisory list accumulate contaminants lake-wide due to migration into Lake Ontario. Prey fish (smelt, alewife, and gizzard shad) also move contaminants from Lake Ontario into the Hamilton Harbour food chain. Mercury, PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), Mirex, and pesticides were listed as the causes of impairment in fish. For wildlife, PCB concentrations in mallard ducks and snapping turtles were above U.S. standards.
Listing Guideline: When contaminant levels in fish or wildlife populations exceed current standards or guidelines. Also, this BUI is impaired if public health advisories are in effect for human consumption of fish or wildlife. Contaminant levels in fish and wildlife must be due to contaminant input from the watershed.
Delisting Guideline: When contaminant levels in fish and wildlife populations do not exceed current standards or guidelines. This BUI would also be delisted if there are no public health advisories are in effect for human consumption of fish or wildlife. Contaminant levels in fish and wildlife must not be due to contaminant input from the watershed.
What Has Been Done?
Projects are indirectly related to reducing fish consumption restrictions.
- Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) program reduced inputs of chemicals into Hamilton Harbour by industry and municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants (Ongoing)
- Natural burying of historical sediments by “cleaner” fill from the watershed and point sources (Ongoing)
- Comprehensive guides and information about eating fish in Ontario have been developed. For consumption advice on fish in Ontario use this map
How Are Things Today?
- Health Canada funded a survey of fish consumption from 1995-1997. Only 20% of Hamilton Harbour respondents ate their catch in comparison to a 38% average of all five Area Of Concerns sites surveyed. In response to “why don’t you eat your catch”: 70% of non-eaters reported polluted water and 32% reported dirty or contaminated fish. Researchers reported a noticeable ‘stigma’ attached to eating fish from Hamilton Harbour.
- Current fish consumption advisories are still severely restrictive with Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) being the main driver behind fish consumption advisories in Hamilton Harbour. Click here for the 2015-2016 Guide to Eating Ontario fish.
What Still Needs To Happen?
- A detailed assessment of fish consumption restrictions in Hamilton Harbour needs to be completed. This is being done for the Toronto Area Of Concern by the Ontario Ministry Of the Environment and goes beyond the basic listing in the advisory.
- ArcelorMittal Boat Slip Sediment Remediation Project has a PCB component (targeted for 2015 completion)
- The source of PCBs measured in the Windermere Arm area sediments needs to be determined.
When Will The Status Change?
- A re-evaluation should be made after all scientifically feasible and economically reasonable actions have been implemented.
- Anticipate years of natural recovery after the last sediment project is completed.
For full information on BUI i (a) & i (b):
Photo Credit: Royal Botanical Gardens