cancellation of fishing derby again

PCB worries lead to cancellation of fishing derby again Associated Press
May. 10, 2005 03:15 PM

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The children’s fishing derby at a federal research center here has been canceled for the second year in a row, because of concerns about PCB contamination in the fish.

Testing to identify the source of the contamination at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center began last year and is continuing. The director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service center said that until fish raised there are deemed safe to eat, they will not be available to the public.

The Kids Fishing Derby scheduled for June 4 began in 1990 and was held for 13 years. Children 13 and younger were invited to catch fish in a stocked pond, and take their catches home to eat. The last derby, in 2003, drew more than 800 children. advertisement

The PCB problem became known after the Fish and Wildlife Service, responding to rising concern about PCB levels in hatchery and farm-raised fish, collected fish samples from a number of its facilities in three regions of the country. The sampling began in March 2004 and continued this year.

At the Bozeman center, tests have confirmed contamination both in fish from the pond used for the derby and in the center’s raceways, where fish are reared.

PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, are a suspected carcinogen and were put to a variety of industrial uses in the 1970s. They are found worldwide and exist in trace amounts in many of the foods people eat daily.

It appears the contamination at the Bozeman center may come from sources other than fish feed, said the Fish and Wildlife Service, which is awaiting results of tests on caulk in the raceway system. The agency also plans to sample the raceways’ concrete.

Concerns include whether some endangered and sensitive species at the center, such as pallid sturgeon and arctic grayling, could be harmed by the elevated levels of PCBs.

State fish and wildlife officials are awaiting bids for the cleanup of PCB contamination at the state-run Big Springs Trout Hatchery in Lewistown. Nearly a million of its fish were destroyed in 2004 because PCBs were in paint used to coat the hatchery’s raceways in the 1960s and 1970s.

At the Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional office in Denver, spokesman Matt Kales said the annual fishing derby was held as a way to introduce children to fishing and expose the public to the center’s work. The center conducts fish research and is a source of information for hatcheries.

Kales said there was talk of holding a “catch-and-release” derby, but the idea was dropped because of the difficulty of monitoring each child to make sure no fish left the premises.

Bozeman won’t be without a children’s fishing event on June 4, however. A service club plans to hold a derby that day, at a pond.


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