MADERA COUNTY – A state fish advisory issued for Hensley Lake in Madera County provides safe eating advice for black bass species, catfish species, Common Carp, crappie species and sunfish species.
Hensley Lake is located approximately 26 miles north of the city of Fresno and 35 miles southeast of the city of Merced in Madera County. The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) developed the recommendations based on the levels of mercury found in fish caught from the lake.
“Many fish have nutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease and are excellent sources of protein,” said Dr. Lauren Zeise, director of OEHHA. “By following our guidelines for fish caught in Hensley Lake, people can safely eat fish low in chemical contaminants and enjoy the well-known health benefits of fish consumption.”
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When consuming fish from Hensley Lake, women ages 18–49 and children ages 1–17 should not eat black bass species or catfish species. They may safely eat a maximum of one total serving per week of Common Carp, crappie species or sunfish species.
Women ages 50 and older and men ages 18 and older may safely eat a maximum of four total servings per week of Common Carp, or two total servings per week of crappie species or sunfish species, or one total serving per week of black bass species or catfish species.
One serving is an eight-ounce fish fillet, measured prior to cooking, which is roughly the size and thickness of your hand. Children should eat smaller servings. For small fish species, several individual fish may make up a single serving.
A poster with the safe eating advice for Hensley Lake is available on OEHHA’s website in both English and Spanish. For fish species found in Hensley Lake that are not included in this advisory, OEHHA recommends following the statewide advisory for eating fish from California lakes and reservoirs without site-specific advice.
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that is released into the environment from mining and burning coal. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing children and fetuses. Because of this, OEHHA provides a separate set of recommendations specifically for children up to age 17 and women of childbearing age (18–49 years).
Eating fish in amounts slightly greater than the advisory’s recommendations based on mercury is not likely to cause health problems if it is done occasionally, such as eating fish caught during an annual vacation.
The Hensley Lake advisory joins more than 100 other OEHHA advisories that provide site-specific, health-based fish consumption advice for many of the places where people catch and eat fish in California, including lakes, rivers, bays, reservoirs and the coast. Advisories are available on OEHHA’s Fish Advisories web page.
OEHHA’s mission is to protect and enhance the health of Californians and our state’s environment through scientific evaluations that inform, support, and guide regulatory and other actions.