April 21, 2022

For some, fishing is a form of relaxation. For others, it is part of a tradition. But right now, for everyone, eating fish that lives its entire life in the Lower Willamette River—virtually the entire course of the river through downtown Portland—can put your health at risk. due to contaminants found in the mud at the bottom of the river sections.

The Multnomah County Environmental Health Team, part of the county health department, has released a fishing warning video to help guide and protect community members fishing in the Lower Willamette.

Multnomah County worked with the Human Access Projectthe Oregon Health Authoritythe Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and three local anglers from diverse backgrounds to develop the video review. The video is available in English, Chinese and Russianpart of the job of deliberately reaching and informing specific communities.

The Lower Willamette River Fishing Advisory Area refers to the course of the river from the Sellwood Bridge and then moves north until it joins the Columbia River. It also includes the Multnomah channel, starting at the confluence with the Willamette River to the Sauvie Island Bridge.

In December 2000, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified Portland Harbor, an approximately 10-mile stretch of the Willamette between the Broadway Bridge and the Columbia Slough, as Superfonds website.

Under federal law for Superfund sites, the EPA can establish a long-term response to clean up contamination. The contamination of the Lower Willamette River is the result of commercial expansion and large-scale manufacturing that emerged along the river for decades as Portland developed.

This contamination has now settled into the river bed. These contaminants include:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Dioxins/furans
  • pesticides

“I can help my community,” said Dan Yan, a fisherman who helped film the Chinese version of the video.

Yan, who fishes with his father and has a group of friends who also fish, said providing the information in Chinese will help more people understand the fish advisory and the health risks of eating fish. contaminated fish.

“We all want to live a a longer and healthier life,” said Yan, who said he would share the video with his fishing group.

Dishaun Berry, who has been fishing in Portland for more than 20 years, and Yevgeniy Ruban, whose fishing has become a tradition, also helped promote the advisory.

Yan, Berry and Ruban are each part of specific communities with strong cultural ties to fishing as a hobby but also as a source of food: the Chinese, Black and Slavic communities, respectively.

“It’s people who look like me who fish here and eat the fish,” Berry said.

Berry said it was important to share vital information with his community. He also said it’s more effective if the information comes directly from someone who is already part of the community.

Contaminants found in the Willamette River have serious and lasting effects on the health of people who fish and eat fish in this region. These effects can include:

  • Reduced IQ for life
  • Low birth weight
  • Liver and thyroid dysfunction
  • Weakened immune system
  • An increased risk of diabetes and heart disease

“The reason we’re concerned about people eating fish is that PCBs can cause developmental problems in children,” said Oregon Health Authority toxicologist David Farrer.

Beth Appert, senior program specialist with the county’s environmental health division, said anglers should be especially mindful of fish like bass, carp, catfish and crappie that spend their entire lives in the river. Lower Willamette.

“They have a higher chance to accumulateremove contaminants that are at the bottom of the river,” Appert said.

For more information on the other fish and shellfish affected by the advisory, and to learn more about fishing in the Lower Willamette River, visit the Department of Health website. Site “Eat fish from the river”.