Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

Eating Minnesota fish -- you decide

Posted by: Paul Austin Updated: May 21, 2010 - 11:33 AM

Too often news about pollution is explained – or not explained well – in a way that scares people.  The fact that there’s a state fish consumption advisory on every inland lake in Minnesota, urging limited eating of fish by some sensitive groups because of mercury contamination, can sound awful.  But it doesn’t mean Minnesotans shouldn’t enjoy fishing and eating fish.

On the other hand, some government agencies and even a few anglers play down the problem of fish contamination, discounting the risk.  That’s not right either.

The balance is “informed choice.”  Recently, when we launched our Check My Lake program for 2010, we heard from people on both sides of the issue, some who thought our website gave an overblown sense of health effects, some who thought the risks are greater than we stated.  We think we’re in the right place by informing Minnesotans of the health advice put out by the state Department of Health, and letting them make their own decisions.

The key concern is women of child-bearing age and children themselves. Even small doses of mercury and other contaminants at the wrong time can have lifelong impacts on kids.

Prudence, not fear or complacency, is the answer.  Check out our Check My Lake tool, which gives information on the level of pollution and fish contamination for every lake in Minnesota.  And let us know what you think.
 

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