(Sept. 7, 2023) - The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) today issued a precautionary fish consumption advisory for largemouth bass due to mercury on Fall Creek Falls Lake in Van Buren County.
TDEC advises that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children avoid eating the largemouth bass and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month. Other recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, swimming, wading, and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk.
In 2022, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), in cooperation with TDEC, collected fish for tissue analysis on the lake. Largemouth bass was the targeted species. Fish were analyzed for mercury by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) through a contract with TDEC. Fall Creek Falls Lake is an impoundment on Fall Creek and within Fall Creek Falls State Park near Spencer.
The mercury trigger point for a precautionary advisory is 0.3 mg/kg. Largemouth bass were above the mercury trigger point with a combined weighted mercury average 0.40 mg/kg. The advisory for the entirety of the lake is part of TDEC’s responsibilities under the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act.
“We provide these advisories so the community can make informed decisions about whether or not to consume the fish they catch,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young. “Unlike ‘Do Not Consume’ advisories that warn the general population to avoid eating fish from a particular body of water altogether, precautionary fish consumption advisories are specifically directed to sensitive populations such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those who may eat fish frequently from the same body of water.”
TDEC, TWRA, and Tennessee State Parks will work together to communicate this information to the public at primary public access points.
About Fish Consumption Advisories
The Tennessee Water Quality Control Act identifies the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as having the authority and responsibility to issue advisories for either water contact hazards like pathogens or excessive health risks due to the accumulation of contaminants in fish or shellfish. Tennessee’s General Water Quality Criteria provide additional guidance regarding the conditions under which advisories may be warranted.
Where new advisories have been issued, TDEC will immediately begin the process of notifying the public at primary public access points. TDEC works in partnership with the TWRA to communicate information about fishing advisories.
For a complete listing of Tennessee’s current fishing advisories plus additional information about the advisory issuance process, visit this link.