Current Status and Temporal Trends in Concentrations of Persistent Toxic Substances in Sport Fish and Juvenile Forage Fish in the Canadian Waters of the Great Lakes

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Abstract

This paper presents a summary of the current status and temporal trends over the past 15 - 20 years in contaminant levels in sport fish and juvenile forage fish in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. Fish consumption advisories summarized from the 1995 Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish showed that 67% of the 1736 consumption advisories in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes had no restrictions. In the remaining 33% of the advisories, consumption of sport fish was restricted to 4 meals per month or less. Lake Erie had the fewest consumption restrictions (19%) and Lake Ontario the most (45%). PCBs were the principal contaminants of concern responsible for 47% of the consumption restrictions in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes and caused the most consumption restrictions in each of the Great Lakes except Lake Superior where toxaphene caused 69% of the consumption restrictions. Concentrations of PCBs in sport fish declined in Lake Huron and Lake Ontario over the period 1976-1994. A decline in mirex concentrations in sport fish from Lake Ontario was also observed over the same time period. Concentrations of Hg in sport fish from Lake St. Clair declined over the period 1970-1994, but mercury in sport fish showed no trend over time in Lake Huron or Lake Ontario over the period 1981-1994. Contaminant levels in juvenile forage fish collected in 1993 and 1994 at 44 locations in the lower Great Lakes were assessed against wildlife protection guidelines. Concentrations that exceeded the Forage Fish Contaminant Index were observed at 17 locations with PCBs being the principal contaminant of concern. PCB concentrations in spottail shiners declined at 12 of 16 locations monitored in the lower Great Lakes over the period 1975-1994.

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