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Rod, Gun & Game: Enjoy your catch fish on a plate, as well

WHAT FISH TO EAT — A new pocket guide to consumption of local fish is free from Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper by calling 852-7483 ext. 26 or email blin@bnriverkeeper.org.
Fishing is a fun and relaxing activity and an affordable way to feed your family. Western New York has some of the best fishing in the entire country.

Certain waterways in the area have a long history of pollution that has made some of these fish harmful to eat. A new website, www.grow716.org, offers easy-to-understand materials to educate Western New Yorkers on how to make healthier choices when eating locally-caught fish.

The website offers an interactive, easy-to-understand guide created to educate anglers and fish consumers about eating fish caught in Western New York. This guide answers questions such as, “Are fish healthy to eat?” “Can I see pollution in water and fish?” and “Will eating polluted fish make me sick?”

Also included in this guide are tips for choosing healthier fish and making fish meals safer to eat, a fish identification section, waterway maps for many popular local waterways and fish consumption advisory information issued by the New York State Department of Health for all local waterways with specific health advisories.

There is information about buying fish, how to make the best choices in the store and about the origin of fish in the supermarket. Sometimes, locally-caught fish can be a better choice. The reader becomes educated about using all the facts and information. An educated angler and consumer is the way of our modern age.

Fish from popular local waterways are tested, but fish testing does not take place in every New York state waterway; it focuses on popular local fishing spots that are known or are likely to be polluted and reports on them. Not all types of fish in NYS are tested for pollution; the focus is on the fish most likely to be caught by people who fish for sport. Fish are not tested for all types of harmful chemicals, because resources are always limited. Many of the new chemicals that enter our waterways each year are untested and their effect on the human health system is unknown.

For official department of health advisories and recommendations on fish consumption, visit www.health.ny.gov/fish or call 1-800-458-1158. Proper cleaning of a fish you catch will go a long way toward reducing and nearly eliminating many contaminants found in fish. Learn how to best clean your catch for safest consumption, because there is nothing quite like a fresh fish fry of perch or walleye from the Lake Erie deep.

Lake Erie on the open waterway is actually very clean and quite clear. It’s possible to see 30 – 40 feet down on many days, making it a scuba diver’s wonder-world. The zebra mussels helped to clean up the lake, though they are an invasive species brought here in the ballast water of sea-going ships – another source of pollution we need to control.

To bring more attention to the message of fish consumption and cleaning up our local waterways, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is piloting a new mobile messaging campaign called “Catch of the Day,” which encourages anglers to use their phones to upload pictures of their catch and in return receive a link to their new fish consumption advisory materials (www.eatfishwny.org). All you have to do is text “COD” to 877-877 and follow the prompts.

The goal is to show all the activity that is going on along our revamped Buffalo and WNY waterfront and that it is fun to see the “Catch of the Day” photos posted on Facebook and on the community foundation’s website at www.grow716.org.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has created posters and picture-based pocket guides originally intended for the inner city refugee community in Buffalo, with information about eating fish caught in Western New York. The pocket guide provides a focus on helping the reader to identify common local fish and helps educate people about which fish tend to be less polluted and safer to eat. The free information also contains important facts about the health risks of eating chemically polluted fish, water pollution and helpful tips for making fish meals safer to eat.

While modern manufacturing processes are less likely to cause pollution these days, one of the major problems that still exist in several areas of WNY is from sewage pollution. Sewage is a mixture of everything flushed or poured down the drain and can contain human waste and medicines, plus harmful chemicals. Stormwater is any water that runs off of hard surfaces such as buildings and roads and into the sewer. It can contain fertilizer and pesticides which wash off lawns and farms, as well as chemicals and trash which wash off roads when it rains. Combined sewer overflows (called CSO’s) are still a major source of water pollution in WNY.

Sewer overflows make our waterways less safe, by polluting them with untreated sewage and stormwater containing harmful germs and chemicals. In WNY, 52 combined sewer outflow points direct into many local streams, including the Niagara River, Black Rock Canal, Buffalo River, Scajaquada Creek and Cazenovia Creek.

While all of this overflow activity is unhealthy, it also adds to another problem that is getting bigger each year: blue-green algae blooms. While we hear much more about this problem in the western basin of Lake Erie (Ohio), this is everyone’s problem today. Blue-green algae are naturally found in lakes and streams, but these naturally occurring algae can form harmful algal blooms in nutrient rich waterways caused by sewage overflows.

Contact with large amounts of blue-green algae can be toxic to humans and animals. It can be difficult to tell a non-toxic or toxic bloom, but blue-green algae can discolor the water, making it look like pea soup or have floating dots of algae or water with green streaks on the surface. Rinse off your skin, if you come into contact with an algal bloom.

Many towns and cities have sewer systems that combine sewage and stormwater in the same pipe before treatment. Each year, more than four billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater are dumped into local waterways when these sewer systems overflow (during storms) due to limited capacity issues.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper created the materials discussed here for the benefit of public health with funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For updates on the project and Riverkeeper’s public health and environmental justice work, visit online at bnriverkeeper.org/projects/public-health-environmental-justice. If you would like to request a copy of the poster or pocket guide, call 852-7483 ext. 26 or email blin@bnriverkeeper.org.

Bass Pro sponsors NHF Day

Bass Pro Shops will continue its major sponsorship of National Hunting and Fishing Day, which continues to benefit hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen and falls on Sept. 28.

The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, in conjunction with the NYS-DEC and host Elma Conservation Club, will offer a day of activities beginning at 9 a.m. There will be 23 learning stations, where kids can learn to tie a fly, make a lure, shoot a long bow, compound bow, crossbow, BB-gun, shoot a shotgun at a flying trap target, learn to cast a line, watch a dog retriever work in the pond, or see a host of birds of prey such as hawks, eagles, and more. For more information, contact Rich Davenport at 510-7952 or rich@weloveoutdoores.com.

Outdoor Calendar

– Aug. 29: DEC waterfowl meeting, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, 1101 Casey Road, Alabama, 7 – 9 p.m.

– Aug. 29: 3D archery shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4 p.m. start, unlimited shooting, open to the public. For more information, call Mike at 655-5030.

– Aug. 29: NYS waterfowl ID course, Elma Conservation Club, 600 Creek Road, 6 – 10 p.m. For more information, call 681-5690.

– Aug. 30: NYS hunter safety training, Elma Conservation Club, 600 Creek Road. Pick up materials 7 - 8 p.m. for the Sept. 14 – 15 course. For more information, call 681-5690.

– Aug. 31: NYS archery training, Allied Sportsmen, 12847 Clinton St., Marilla, home study, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, call 474-0460.

– Sept. 2: Hawkeye Bowmen 3D Labor Day archery shoot, 13300 Clinton St., Marilla, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, call 998-4857.

– Sept. 3: 3D archery shoot, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Marilla, 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.alliedsportsmen.com.

– Sept. 4: 3D archery shoot, Evans Rod & Gun Club, Cain Road, 4 p.m. start. For more information, call 549-0333.

– Sept. 4: 3D archery shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, 5 p.m. start with unlimited shooting. For more information, call Nadine at 982-7069.

– Sept. 7 and 14: NYS hunter safety training, Southtowns Walleye Association, 5895 Southwestern Blvd., 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sept. 7; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sept. 14. For more information, call 627-0147

Email outdoor news to Forrest Fisher, 10 days in advance, at nugdor@yahoo.com.
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