State to adjust fish consumption standardsNov 7th, 2011 • Category: NWIFC Blog
State environmental regulators have proposed increasing the fish consumption rate used to determine water quality safety standards.
The state’s current rate of 6.5 grams a day was set in the mid-1980s, but officials believe Washington residents eat much more than that.
And members of fishing tribes in western Washington eat even more fish and shellfish than the average person.
Several tribes say the current state rate doesn’t reflect the important role fish and shellfish play in the diet and culture of tribal members.
“Our people used to say, `When the tide’s out, the table’s set,” said (Randy) Kinley, a policy analyst for the Lummi Nation, near Bellingham, Wash. “We want to be able to set our nets and catch fish to eat.”
Charles O’Hara, planning director for the Swinomish Tribe near La Conner, Wash., said most tribal ceremonies, funerals or important occasion focus around salmon and other seafood.
“If you look at the current rate of 6 grams, it’s pretty ridiculous,” he said. “To be setting standards on such an unrealistic number ignores reality.” The rate “should account for the people who eat the most,” he added.
Tribes, including the Lummi and Swinomish, are doing their own surveys to find out how much fish tribal members eat. The results will help ensure the state’s criteria protect the health of tribal members, they say.