DEQ Advises Limiting Fish Consumption From 32 Oklahoma Lakes - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

DEQ Advises Limiting Fish Consumption From 32 Oklahoma Lakes

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Environmental experts are advising it might be a good idea to throw some of your catches back. Environmental experts are advising it might be a good idea to throw some of your catches back.
Don Andrews is a regular on Skiatook Lake. Andrews said he eats catfish at least twice a week. Don Andrews is a regular on Skiatook Lake. Andrews said he eats catfish at least twice a week.
"It shouldn't do nothing, I ain't really worried about it," said Sperry resident Byron Teel. "I'll keep on fishing and any fish I want to eat, I'll eat 'em." "It shouldn't do nothing, I ain't really worried about it," said Sperry resident Byron Teel. "I'll keep on fishing and any fish I want to eat, I'll eat 'em."
SKIATOOK, Oklahoma -

The Department of Environmental Quality put out the warning that 32 Oklahoma lakes have fish that contain high levels of mercury. Environmental experts are advising it might be a good idea to throw some of your catches back.

Eufaula and Skiatook Lakes are two on the list, and the DEQ says, if you eat too much mercury-laced fish, it could have damaging effects.

The weather Friday was just right for a day out on the lake. Unfortunately for the anglers, the fish weren't really biting.

"It ain't worth a hoot," Tulsa resident Don Andrews said.

Andrews is a regular on Skiatook Lake. He may have left empty-handed Friday, but he says that's not normally the case.

"We have about six or seven bags full of fish when we go, usually," Andrews said.

Click here for a list of the 32 lakes in the DEQ advisory

Andrews said he eats catfish at least twice a week.

"If they're regular consumers of fish, they need to pay attention to the advisories," the DEQ's Jay Wright said.

The DEQ said 32 Oklahoma lakes have tested positive for high mercury levels. Wright said predator fish, which eat smaller fish, are the most toxic.

"Large mouth bass usually have some of the higher levels, like walleye, saugeye, flathead catfish can have higher levels," Wright said.

Wright said mercury is emitted into the environment by both natural and manmade sources. Rain washes mercury into lakes and it eventually ends up in the food chain.

"The more rain that you get, the more mercury is going to flush into the system, but it will be a while, a matter of months or years before that shows up, so it's really kind of a long-term, chronic issue," Wright said.

Children under the age of 15 and women of child-bearing age are most at risk. Wright said mercury poisoning can lead to some low-level neurological effects that hinder hand-eye coordination.

But even with the warnings, faithful fisherman say it won't change much for them.

"It shouldn't do nothing, I ain't really worried about it," Sperry resident Byron Teel said. "I'll keep on fishing and any fish I want to eat, I'll eat 'em."

The DEQ says it wants people to be able to enjoy their fish, but be mindful of how much and what kind you're eating. The agency says mercury levels don't affect the lake's safety as a source of drinking water or for swimming and boating.

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