Fish consumption advisory for Soldier, Soldier Annex and Long Lakes
Jul 1, 2003

For questions about human health:
Patrick Gibbons, Communications Director: (602) 771-2215
Sina Matthes, Media Relations Assistant: (602) 771-4142

For questions about sport-fish and lake health:
Larry Riley, (602) 789-3258
Marc Dahlberg (623) 236-7260
Biologists, Arizona Game and Fish Department:
ADEQ Director Steve Owens Announces a Fish Consumption Advisory for Soldier, Soldier Annex and Long Lakes
PHOENIX – Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that the Arizona departments of Environmental Quality, Game and Fish, and Health Services have issued an advisory recommending that people not eat fish caught from Soldier, Soldier Annex and Long lakes located in the Coconino National Forest, 35 miles southeast of Flagstaff. The advisory remains in effect until further notice.

Owens says the advisory results from recent discoveries of mercury in fish caught from these three interconnected lakes. Testing continues to identify possible sources of the mercury, but officials note that it likely accumulated over time in larger fish, which absorb small amounts of mercury by eating other fish and insects. As a precaution, the consumption advisory applies to all fish taken from the lakes, regardless of size or species.

The advisory does not limit use of the lakes for fishing, bird watching, swimming or other recreational uses.

“Most people are exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish,” Owens said.

“Our long-term goal is to prevent mercury from entering the environment in the first place by reducing the use of products that contain mercury, encouraging new technologies to reduce or replace mercury, and educating people and businesses about the proper disposal of existing products,” Owens said.

Increasing evidence of mercury contamination has led state officials in recent years to issue fish consumption advisories on at least five water bodies in various parts of the state, including Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Lyman Lake, Pena Blanca, Arivaca and Parker Canyon Lake.

ADEQ is undertaking efforts to improve the water quality of these affected lakes and streams and has developed a strategy to prevent new mercury from entering the environment and to reduce the amount of mercury released from man-made sources.

Mercury is a toxic pollutant affecting the nervous system that accumulates and persists in the tissue of humans and wildlife. Those considered most at risk to possible health effects from exposure to mercury would include infants and unborn children whose mothers consume fish containing mercury during pregnancy or while nursing.