To make it easier and faster for anglers fishing in Ontario to check if the fish they catch is safe to eat, the Ministry of Environment today launched a new interactive online guide.
Although The Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish has been published in hard copy every two years since 1977, and has been available on the web as a PDF since 1999, this is the first time that users can search it by lake, river or stream name, address, fish species or GPS coordinates.
“We’re trying to make it more interactive and more user-friendly,” says Ontario Environment Minister John Wilkinson, who was at the Toronto Sportsmen Show Wednesday morning to demonstrate the Guide’s new features.
The Guide now contains consumption information for fish in 1,950 water bodies, up 100 from the version put out two years ago. “The good news is that since the 70s, we’re seeing a dramatic reduction in contaminants,” Wilkinson says.
The levels of mercury in inland lakes, and of PCBs and dioxins in the Great Lakes, have all come down in the past 30 years, adds Wolfgang Scheider, manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch.
And by having data going back to 1976, analysts can tell that collective action on cleaning up the environment has resulted in more fish that are safe to eat, Wilkinson says.
Still, even though we can now eat more sport fish today than we could 30 years ago, there are limitations. For instance, a 40-year-old man should only eat eight 16-inch smallmouth bass from Lake Simcoe a month, a woman of child-bearing age should only eat four. If you eat multiple species of fish from the same lake or fish from multiple locations, more restrictions would apply.
So, can you consult the guide from a smartphone while you’re streamside or on the water? Yes, provided you can access the Internet via a WiFi signal. If you can get into a Web browser, you can access the guide.
Says Wilkinson: “This gets the guide right to your fingertips.”