Posts Tagged "environmental justice"

Fish advisory signs installed to highlight need for official action Environmental justice activists and anglers place signs around Monona Bay

(MADISON, Wis.)—Sixty people gathered at Brittingham Park on Thurs., Sept. 20 to make and install fish consumption advisory signs to help shoreline anglers learn about the toxins in fish caught in Monona Bay.

“Mercury, PCBs, PAHs, heavy metals, and other toxin levels in Monona Bay make it necessary for people to limit their consumption of many of the fish caught there, yet there are no signs posted anywhere along the bay shoreline to notify anglers of the risks,” said Madison Environmental Justice Organization Executive Director Maria Powell.

“This is important because Monona Bay is one of the most heavily fished spots in the county, and most of  the shoreline, often low-income anglers are not aware of the fish advisories,” she continued. “Signs posted around the bay at least would provide information to shoreline anglers as they fish and may lead them to make safer decisions about consuming fish.”

MEJO has been asking state and county officials to install advisory signs to for the past year. The state often post fish consumption advisory signs at public boat ramps, but has not placed any around Monona Bay , where most anglers fish from shore. MEJO posted their own unofficial signs to draw attention to the need for the state and county to do so. MEJO members Cynthia Lin, Kazoua Moua, VamMeej Yang, Benito Juarez Olivas, Jody Schmitz and Sierra Powell welcomed a large crowd at the Brittingham Park fish fry where they learned about the pollution problems in the bay.


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Fishing & Environmental Justice

Fishing & Environmental Justice

The Midwest Environmental Justice Organization (MEJO) has a mission to educate the community about environmental justice issues, work to address them, and support environmental justice for the benefit of the general public.

We have been working with people of color and low-income residents for more than two years discussing toxins in locally-caught fish, and learning about cultural practices regarding fishing and preparing and eating fish.

Due to mercury and PCB levels in fish, the State of Wisconsin has issued fish advisory warnings regarding toxins to anglers and those who eat locally caught fish from inland Wisconsin waters. Yet fish advisory information is little known or unknown to many anglers.

Levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxins that concentrate in fish are a known public health hazard. Shoreline anglers catch and consume many pan fish that may have lower toxin levels than larger fish, but when consumed in high quantities they may exceed levels recommended to avoid negative health effects; they also frequently catch and consume larger fish, which tend to have higher concentrations of toxins.

Through our investigations, we have learned that public agencies have very little data about local fish consumption habits and toxin levels in locally caught fish and have little interaction with local anglers and their families who eat large amounts of locally caught fish.

Levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, and other toxins are high enough in Dane County lake sediments and waters to raise concerns that people may need to limit their consumption of fish caught in these waters because these compounds build up in fish tissue, which humans consume (see the “Data Collection” section below).

Women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children are especially at risk for developmental, neurological and long term health problems from exposure to toxins present in locally caught fish. The environmental impacts of pollution on low-income and minority citizens are often unknown or underestimated because of a lack of data collection, and lack of consideration of these populations in determining public policy. This reality is a key component of environmental justice.

The common good and sound public health policy is served by informing anglers and others of potential risks associated with consuming many kinds of locally caught fish.

We recommend that fish consumption advisory information be better communicated, especially to low-income and color communities, through permanent, laminated metal signs at popular publicly-accessible shoreline fishing locations, in Hmong, Spanish and English.

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Survey: Shoreline Anglers Eat A Lot of Fish

MEJO has interviewed 129 people and held 12 focus group meetings with 150 participants over the past two years. The meetings were held at neighborhood centers, agency facilities and public locations such as Brittingham Park . Interview were held in the same locations, plus food pantries and shoreline fishing spots. Most participants are low income, minority and fish locally or eat locally caught fish caught by members of their family

We learned the following:

  • Most people are unaware of fish consumption advisories, and no one had seen the DNR booklet or the DHFS brochure about them. (These two documents are the primary educational method used by the State of Wisconsin.)
  • Many people eat large numbers of fish weekly, especially during fishing season (which can extend from April into October). The annual average number of fish meals consumed by families is 2.8 per week. For African Americans, 2.3 fish meals per week; Hmong 3.6 fish meals per week; Latino 3.9 fish meals per week; and White 1.5 fish meals per week. Many people eat 10 or more fish meals per week, with some eating fish at every meal, every day.
  • The most popular shoreline fishing locations are around Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, with two-thirds of respondents saying they fish along these lakes. Almost fifty percent said they fish Monona Bay in Brittingham Park. Other top fishing spots are Tenney Park (Lagoon and Yahara River), Cherokee Marsh (Cherokee Lake and Cherokee Marsh/Yahara River at State Highway 113/ Northport Drive), Lake Wingra and the Wisconsin River (mostly in Sauk City).
  • Hmong prefer white bass, which is a smaller game fish that can have higher levels of some contaminants, but which is not identified on the DHFS brochure and is rarely tested for contaminates by the DNR.
  • African Americans prefer catfish (while many others also like to eat catfish). Catfish can have higher levels of some contaminants (especially PCBs), but which is not identified on the DHFS brochure and is rarely tested for contaminates by the DNR.
  • Awareness of mercury, PCBs and other contaminants in the water and fish is low, with little understanding of the pollution cycle.
  • Most people are unaware that trimming fat and removing the skin will help reduce PCBs in the cooked fish, or that mercury is in the muscle tissue and cannot be removed at all.
  • Many people do not fillet fish. Leaving the skin on, not removing fat and using fish heads in soups are all common practices which lead to greater exposure to many contaminants.
  • When shown the DHFS brochure (in English, Spanish or Hmong), many people did not find the fish they ate and therefore erroneously assumed that those fish are okay to eat (meaning they think no advisory exists for those fish).
  • People thought fish consumption advisory signs at shoreline fishing locations would be beneficial.

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“Environmental justice, fishing and the problem with our lakes”

A Public Forum by the Madison Environmental Justice Organization

Monday, May 5 7:00 – 8:30 pm Madison Central Library 201 W. Mifflin St. (1 block from Capitol Square)

Fishing is part of every cultural heritage. Here in Wisconsin ice fishing, trout fishing in streams and fishing from boats on one of the state’s 14,000 lakes are common images. Less common to many people is the image of someone fishing from the railroad tracks that cross Monona Bay, along the bike path wall at Monona Terrace, and at the Tenney Park lagoon or Warner Beach.

Yet shoreline fishing in the Madison area is a great, inexpensive pastime for many people, especially people of color and the poor. And the fish–panfish, white bass, catfish, carp–are a welcome and often much-needed fresh food source on many people’s plates.

Herein lays a problem.

Due to toxins in the lakes, locally caught fish contain mercury, PCBs, PAHs, lead, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other poisons. Anyone who eats fish needs to be aware of these concerns and make smart decisions regarding how many and which kinds of fish to eat.

And all of us need to think of “cleaning up the lakes” as addressing the toxins that are in the sediment, water, fish and other aquatic life.

Join us at our Forum as we look at the situation and discuss ideas how to make the lakes cleaner and eating fish an always healthy food choice.


Info: ~ 608.240.1485


“Justicia ambiental, la pesca y problemas con nuestros lagos” Coordinado por  la Organizacion de Justicia Ambiental de Madison

Lunes el 5 de mayo 7:00 – 8:30 pm Biblioteca Publica Central 201 W. Mifflin St. (una cuadra del capitolio)

La pesca es  patrimonio cultural de cada civilización. Aquí en Wisconsin la pesca en el hielo , la pesca de  trucha en los arroyos y la pesca en bote en uno de los 14, 000 lagos que posee el estado es una imágen común. Menos común para la mayoría, es la imágen de alguien que pesca desde la vía  del ferrocarril  que cruza la  bahía del lago Monona,  también a  lo largo del camino para las bicicletas junto al Centro de convenciones Monona Terrace,  en la laguna del parque de Tenney o la playa del parque Warner.

La pesca en la playas en el área de Madison es un pasatiempo importante y barato para mucha gente, especialmente para la gente de color y los pobres. Peces como la carpa,  la morraja, el siluro y  pez gato son un recurso de comida fresca  en la mesa de muchas personas.

Aquí esta el problema:

Debido a las tóxinas en los lagos, los peces capturados contienen  mercurio, PCBs, PAHs, plomo, pesticidas, productos farmacéuticos y otros venenos.Cualquier persona que consume pescado debe estar enterada de ello y tomar decisiones inteligentes sobre cuántos y qué clase de peces come.

Cada uno de nosotros necesita pensar en la “limpieza de los lagos ” ,así como también en las tóxinas que contiene el agua, los peces y otro tipo de vida acuática.

Acompañanos en nuestro foro para analizar esta problemática , sugerir ideas para limpiar los lagos y hacer el hábito de consumir pescado saludable y seguro ~ 608.906.2143



“Saib Ncig Peb Qabvag Tsibtaug Kom Muaj Kev Ncav Ncees, Kev Nuv Ntses Thiab Muaj Ntau Yam Teeb Meem Nrog Peb Cov Pas Dej” Tus tos txais yog Madison Environmental Justice Organization

Hnub Monday, Tsib hlis tim 5 Taum 7 Teev Tsaus Ntuj (7:00 – 8:30 pm) Madison Central Library 201 W. Mifflin St. (1 blov los ntawm lub nthug tsev dawb)

Nuv ntses yog ib txoj kev cai txhua leej txhua tus txawj thiab kaw siv los ib tiam dhau ib tiam. Nyob hauv Wisconsin neeg nuv ntses txhua qhov. Qhov nyob ncaj ke ces yog qhov coj pom neeg nuv ntses heev yam li lub caib ntujnaw daus nuv ntses, hauv tus dej teeg, thiab tsav nkoj nuv ntses hauv ib lub pas dej ntawm 14,000 lub pas dej nyob hauv lub xeev no. Qhov nyob ncaim ke yog qhov coj tsis tshua pom neeg nuv ntses yam li yog raws tus ciav tsheb hlau ncig Monona Bay, raws txoj kab tsheb kauj vab Monona Terrace, pas dej Tenney Park, thiab raws ntug dej Warmer Beach.

Rawm pom tias nuv ntses ncig lub zos Madison zoo heev, pheej yig thiab nyob zes tsev, seem rau cov neeg txawv nqaij tawv dub, daj, thiab cov neeg pluag. Cov pas dej ncig zos no muaj cov ntses lauj kaub(panfish), ntses dawb(white bass), ntses tuaj kub(cat fish), ntses pam nais(carp). Cov ntses muaj npe tas no yawg cov ntses sawv daws nyiam nuv ntau dua thiab yog yam nqaij ntses tshiab coob tus coj los tso saum rooj ua nqaij noj.

Tab sis muaj teeb meem.

Muaj ntau yam tshuaj pem nyob hauv pas dej. Cov ntses nuv tau hauv cov pas dej nyob ze zos no muaj hlau mercury, PCB, PAH’s lead, pesticides(tshuaj tua kab), pharmaceuticals, thiab lwm yam kab mob . Yog leej twg noj cov nqiaj ntses nyob hauv cov pas dej no. Yuav tsum ceev faj txog kev txhawj xeeb cov kuv hais tag los no. Thiaj txiav txim siab tau tias yam nqaij ntses twg pes tsawg tus mam noj.

Tas nro peb txhua tus xav tau “yuav tsum tu thiab kho cov pas dej” thiaj li yog ib qho pib hauv pau kom cov tshuaj (toxins) nyob hauv qab pas dej, hav dej, ntses, thiab lwm yam tsiaj huv si mus yag tom tej.

Tuaj koom siab nrog peb lub Rooj Sablaj(Forum) peb sawv daws sib pab tawm tswb yim tu kho cov pas dej kom huv thiab noj nqiaj ntses thiaj li yog khoom noj huv si mus yav tom ntej.

Xav paub ntxiv:; 608-241-4180

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