orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Outdoors

December 29, 2011

Sabine Lake: Health officials give gafftop consumption warning

AUSTIN, Texas —  

The Texas Department of State Health Services today advised limiting consumption of gafftopsail (gafftop) catfish from the Texas waters of Sabine Lake because of concerns about chemicals known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). PCBs are known to cause cancer and neurobehavioral and immunological changes in animals.

The advisory recommends limiting consumption to no more than 8 ounces per adult per month. Pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, women who are nursing infants, and children younger than 12 should limit consumption of gafftopsail catfish to no more than one 4 ounce meal per month.

DSHS issued a similar advisory for spotted seatrout and all catfish species from Galveston Bay in July 2008. This advisory remains in effect.

In January 2010, the DSHS Seafood and Aquatic Life Group was awarded project funding through a social services block grant to assess the potential health risks associated with consuming fish from Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake due to the catastrophic flooding that followed Hurricane Ike. Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake received floodwaters from some of the most populated and industrialized coastal areas in the country.

Samples from common species – including spotted seatrout (speckled trout), red drum (redfish), southern flounder and black drum – were analyzed. Only gafftopsail catfish (gafftops) showed potentially harmful levels of PCBs.

“This advisory should have a minimal impact on local fishing,” said TPWD Sabine Lake Ecosystem Leader Jerry Mambretti. “Sabine Lake has seen an increase in population numbers of red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder. DSHS samples did not show dangerous levels of contaminants in these and other species commonly found in Sabine Lake.”

Sabine Lake is a 68.7-square mile brackish water estuary located on the Texas-Louisiana border in Jefferson and Orange Counties, Texas and Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The Sabine Lake estuary drains approximately 50,000 square miles of Texas and Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico through Sabine Pass and is located adjacent to the large petrochemical producing complex of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur, Texas.

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