"The decline in mercury contamination of fishery resources across much of the Great Lakes region is very welcome news," says James G. Wiener, Ph.D., Wisconsin Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and co-principal investigator in the study. "However, the fish in many of the region's inland lakes and rivers exceed important human and environmental health thresholds. For instance, we looked at six commonly eaten game fish and found that average mercury concentrations in these fishes exceeded the EPA human health criterion in 61 percent of the study region." Dr. Wiener further noted that some long-term mercury trends appear to be changing. "The observations of recent increases in mercury concentrations in some fish and wildlife populations in the region is also cause for concern, because we do not understand why these increases are occurring."
Atmospheric emissions are the primary source of mercury deposition in the Great Lakes basin; the report projects that further controls on those emissions "are expected to lower mercury concentrations in the food web, yielding multiple benefits to fish, wildlife, and people in the Great Lakes region."
Great Lakes Mercury Connections is being officially released today in Detroit at the Great Lakes Commission's 2011 Annual Meeting, and the opening day of the first-ever "Great Lakes Week" event. Great Lakes Week is bringing together representatives of the U.S. and Canadian governments along with public and private groups to focus on finding solutions to the most pressing environmental and economic challenges facing the lakes.
|Contact: Deborah McKew|