TOPEKA (KSNT) – An advisory released on Thursday in Kansas lists concerns that should be observed when eating fish caught in state waters.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks released the advisory which identifies types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten only sparingly or avoided completely.

One of the main concerns outlined in the advisory focuses on mercury in fish. While eating fish can be healthy, all of them contain at least a small amount of mercury, according to the advisory. Those who eat fish routinely or feed it to their children should be careful when considering the types and amounts they eat, including store-bought fish. Too much mercury in your diet can harm the development of fetuses, nursing babies and growing children.

The advisory goes on to say that mercury-sensitive people, such as women who are pregnant, nursing or may become pregnant and children younger than the age of 17, should follow these guidelines when eating fish caught in Kansas:

  • Eat smaller portions – a fillet about the size of your palm.
  • Eat types of fish with less mercury.
  • If you don’t know the type or size of fish you are eating, wait at least a week before eating fish again.
  • When fishing, keep fish shorter than your forearm (fingertips to elbow) or less than 20 inches as regulations allow.

The following preferred choice fish should only be eaten in servings once or twice a week:

  • Blue and Channel Catfish
  • Common Carp
  • Crappies
  • White Bass, White Perch, Wiper, Striped Bass
  • Walleye, Sauger, Saugeye
  • Bullhead Catfish
  • Drum
  • Sunfish (Bluegill, Green, Redear, etc.)

The following second choice fish should only be eaten once or twice a month:

  • Buffaloes (Black, Bigmouth, Smallmouth)
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted)

Serving sizes were listed as the following for skinless fish fillets before cooking:

  • Adults and children 13 and older – 8 oz
  • Children 6-12 – 4 oz
  • Children younger than 6 – 2 oz

If you plan to keep fish larger than around 20 inches, the advisory states that you should reduce your serving sizes to not more than one serving per week for preferred choice fish and not more than one serving per month for second choice fish.

If you have questions or concerns about mercury in fish you caught in Kansas, you can reach out to the KDHE. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have more resources online on the topic of mercury in fish.

The advisory gives specific recommendations for restricted consumption of bottom-feeding fish and catfishes to one serving per week in the following locations:

  • Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River (Reno County)
  • Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River (Douglas and Leavenworth counties)
  • Little Arkansas River from the Main Street Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita (Sedgwick County)

The advisory says you should restrict your consumption of bottom-feeding fish and catfishes to one serving per month in K-96 Lake in Wichita, Sedgwick County.

The following locations contain fish and aquatic wildlife that are not recommended for consumption by the KDWP and KDHE:

  • Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine (Sedgwick and Sumner counties); bottom-feeding fish and catfishes due to PCBs.
  • Shoal Creek from the Missouri/Kansas border to Empire Lake (Cherokee County); shellfish due to lead and cadmium.
  • Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas/Oklahoma border (Cherokee County); shellfish due to lead and cadmium.
  • Antioch Park Lake South in Antioch Park, Overland Park (Johnson County); all fish due to pesticides dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, chlordane and dichlorophenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs).
  • Arkalon Park Lakes in Liberal (Seward County) – Kansas recommends not eating any aquatic life because the lakes are sustained solely by treated municipal wastewater.

The advisory also gives general advice for reducing the amount of exposure to chemicals found in fish:

  • Keep smaller fish to eat and let the big ones go.
  • Avoid eating fish parts other than fillets.
  • Trim fat from fillets and/or use cooking methods that allows fat to drip away.
  • Avoid subsistence fishing (relying on wild-caught fish for daily nutritional needs) in rivers within or immediately downstream of large urban/industrial areas.
  • Do not eat fish or aquatic life from wastewater outfalls, waste treatment lagoons or stormwater retention ponds.