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Release Date: 10/2/2001
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano

Education campaign over 10 years about hazards of eating contaminated fish

   SAN FRANCISCO - Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $ 7.8 million public outreach and education program over 10 years to inform the southern California community about the dangers of eating fish caught from the Palos Verdes shelf waters.

     The program will be targeted to educate sport and subsistence fishers and fish consumers (particularly the young, elderly and child-bearing age women), as well as commercial anglers, wholesalers, restaurants and markets about the risks of eating DDT and PCB contaminated fish.

    "Informing the fish-eating public about the risks of eating contaminated fish is essential to the work the agency is doing to address the site," said Keith Takata, Superfund Division Director for the Pacific Southwest.  "By providing a combination of public outreach, monitoring and enforcement, we will reduce the public's exposure to contaminated fish caught in the Palos Verdes Shelf area."

     The EPA anticipates that the program will be carried out through funding provided to state, county and local agencies and community-based organizations.

     A public education campaign developed in a variety of languages will be created and targeted to subsistence fishers, mom and pop markets, restaurant owners and commercial fisherman throughout Los Angeles and Long Beach.  Multilingual information booths will be set up at key fishing spots.  On-the-spot outreach will be conducted on docks and piers, talking directly to fishers, informing them about the fish advisory and the risks of eating contaminated fish.  Brochures and videos explaining what fish are contaminated and how people can reduce their risk by limiting or not eating these fish will be developed.  Similar campaigns will be developed for owners of fish markets that outline the requirements for buying fish from licenced fish wholesalers and sellers.

     Part of this campaign will be directed at monitoring white croaker and other locally caught fish to determine if contaminated fish are still entering the marketplace which could result in working with the California Fish and Game to increase enforcement of the commercial and sport fishing ban on white croaker caught in Los Angeles and Long Beach waters.

     Today's action is an interim step while the agency continues its evaluation of the pilot capping project of DDT contaminated sediments that layer the ocean bottom along the Palos Verdes shelf.

     White croaker and other bottom-feeding fish from that area continue to test positively with  high levels of DDT and PCB contamination.  Cancer and related hazard risks vary depending on how much and how often fish caught in the area is eaten, but there are potential risks to breast- fed infants whose mothers consume just one meal per month of contaminated fish.

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