Fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and still maintain social distance.
Seafood is the primary dietary source of healthy long-chain omega-3 fats and is rich in nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat. There is strong evidence to suggest that eating fish (or taking fish oil) is good for the heart and blood vessels. An analysis of 20 studies involving hundreds of thousands of participants indicates that eating approximately one to two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish a week—salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines—reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent
Unfortunately, some fish in Ohio’s waters are contaminated with harmful chemicals like methylmercury and a group of chemicals called PCBs. Over time, eating contaminated fish can cause health problems.
In general, some fish tend to be lower in contaminants than others.
Ohio Sport Fish Consumption Advice Meal Frequency:
One meal/month: Flathead catfish 23” and over, Northern pike 23” and over, Steelhead trout from Lake Erie and its tributaries
Two meals/week: Yellow perch and Sunfish (e.g., bluegill, green, longear, redear)
One meal/week: All other
Anglers in Ohio can also use the following general advice to harvest healthier fish with fewer contaminants:
Choose the smallest fish within the legal size limit. Smaller, younger fish tend to have fewer contaminants built up in their bodies.
Avoid bottom feeders and suckers.
Avoid fish from a body of water known to be contaminated.
Vary the types of fish you catch and eat.
How To Prepare
Cook and eat only the fillet. Discard the fat and skin before cooking.
Bake, broil, or grill the fish on a rack so that the fat can drip away. This will remove certain contaminants, such as PCBs, and these methods won’t add extra unhealthy fats as with frying.
The statewide mercury advisory, issued in 1997, is primarily for pregnant women or women of child- bearing age who may become pregnant, and for children age 15 and under. These groups are considered “sensitive populations” as fetuses whose mothers eat fish before or during pregnancy and children who eat fish are more vulnerable to the health effects of contaminants. They are advised to eat no more than one meal/week of fish (any species) from any Ohio body of water, except those listed as safe to eat two meals/week.
Although the one meal/week advice applies mainly to these sensitive populations, the general advisory issued in 2003 recommends that everyone follow that advice.
The updated advice cautions parents of young children and certain women to avoid seven types of fish that typically have higher mercury levels: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico; shark; swordfish; orange roughy; bigeye tuna; marlin; and king mackerel. Choices lower in mercury include some of the most commonly eaten fish, such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod.
Here is the most recent Ohio Body of Water Fish Advisory. It mentions guidelines for every lake, pond, river, tributary etc.
Friend or Foe?
Eating fish fights heart disease in several ways. The omega-3 fats in fish protect the heart against the development of erratic and potentially deadly cardiac rhythm disturbances. They also lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lower triglycerides and may ease inflammation. The strong and consistent evidence for benefits is such that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Heart Association, and others suggest that everyone eat fish twice a week.
This advice supports the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, developed for people 2 years and older, which reflects current science on nutrition to improve public health.
Fishing is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors! Follow these guidelines, and you will also be able to enjoy the health benefits!