Monday, July 07, 2008

Fishing the Cuyahoga: Are these Fish Safe to Eat?

Last night we took a stroll through Wendy Park on Whiskey Island, down to the river.

There were families lined up all along the chain-link fence with their lines cast and buckets filled with the catch of the day. We watched for a while, they were catching perch. I was rather surprised to see so many families fishing here. I recall seeing thousands of dead fish washed up on the river bank just a few months ago, this past spring, that the gulls wouldn't even touch.

Are the fish from this part of the river safe to eat? Who keps the data on the levels of toxins found in the local wildlife? I haven't kept up with the statistics, since I've had a life-long seafood allergy, and I can't eat fish, but quite frankly I'd be afraid to even wade in that murky brown debris-filled water, let alone eat something that grew in it.

There is a relatively new parking lot at the end of the gravel drive which runs alongside the railroad tracks, where most of the fishermen park. The cars here last night were not the BMW's, Mini Coopers, and Lexus found in the west end lot near the marina. They were old Dodge Caravans, Ford Escorts, and Chevy's that had seen better days. These folks seemed to be Clevlanders from the neighborhood. With the price of food skyrocketing, many people have begun growing their own produce, and now that they've discovered a new fishing spot, they are catching their own fish.

If the fish living at the mouth of the Cuyahoga are toxic then families fishing here need to be warned. I realize a sign might not make the image conscious crew at Cleveland Plus too happy, but let's get real, if these fish are poisoned would they want to eat them?

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