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Clean Water, Safe Fish letter for the governors



Dear Conservation and Health Group members,

The Sierra Club's Clean Water, Safe Fish Project is circulating a
letter to Great Lakes Governors urging them to take stronger
action to protect our children and families from toxic pollution
in fish.  We will release the letter on December 8th, just before
the National Fish Advisory Committee meets in Washington, D.C.

If you would like to sign the letter, please send your name,
group, and contact information to brett.hulsey@sierraclub.org. Or
call me or Eric Uram at 608-257-4994.

If you would like to have a quotation on the press release for
your state, please include that below.

Thank you and have a happy holiday.


Brett Hulsey
Sierra Club

Respond by December 4, 1997 to have your group signed
on.
Name:
Group:
Address:
Phone:
Fax:
E-mail:
Quote for press release:"

****************************************************************
Draft Letter


                                             December 8, 1997


Dear Great Lakes Governor (insert state here);

     The Sierra Club, BASS, Walleyes for Tomorrow, Trout
Unlimited, YOUR ORGANIZATION HERE wish to share our concerns
regarding the risk imposed on people catching and eating fish
caught from the waters of, and adjoining, your state. In recent
years, pollution to these waters has forced health advisories for
eating fish caught from many Midwest rivers and lakes.

     In recent research, the Wisconsin Department of Health
looked at the success of Great Lakes states have had informing
the people who eat sport fish of the possible health hazards.
Half of the respondents were unaware of the polluted fish
advisories. This report further showed the word was not reaching
populations with the greatest need for information, women and
minorities.

     Women were poorly informed. Only about one-third of Great
Lakes women know of the advisories. The US EPA estimates that
annually 85,000 pregnant women put their unborn child at risk by
eating contaminated fish.
     
     Only one-fifth of minority anglers are aware the advisories
exist. Welfare reform and other economic trends are forcing more
people to feed their families food from alternative sources.  One
study showed the risk to minority anglers is more than 1000 times
EPA's "safe levels".

     Failing to educate the public about risks to their health,
their families and the unborn is irresponsible of you, your state
health agencies and the natural resource or fish and game
departments.

     It is imperative that you do more to educate the public
about the risks associated with eating polluted fish and more to
clean up the pollution. The Clean Water Act goal of all rivers
and lakes safe for fishing is far from being met.  Therefore, we
ask you to support the following recommendations:

1.  Test all rivers and lakes in your jurisdiction, beginning
   with those most heavily fished.

2.  Posting waters which contain dangerous toxic chemicals that
   cause these advisories. Included in the posting:
     i)   the chemical(s) present.
     ii)  the source of the pollution.
     iii) the fish, waterfowl and other consumable resources
under the contamination advisory including a graphic key of them.
     iv) the date on which the advisory started.
     v)  a map indicating the extent of contiguous advisory
waters to the posted area.
     vi) an appropriate language warning, including where to get
additional information.


3.    Place all consumption advisory warnings in the FRONT of
     fishing regulations booklet with an accompanying explanation
     of what needs to be done to clean up the pollution. Include
     appropriate languages for anglers, including Spanish and
     Hmong.

4.    Place a warning that eating polluted fish is dangerous to
     your health on all fishing licenses sold, including
     nonresident and short-term licenses.

5.    Use the Protocol for a Uniform Great Lakes Sport Fish
     Consumption Advisory as the guiding document for advisories
     on all rivers and lake, inland or Great Lakes. Have a
     national advisory group meet regularly to assess progress
     and make recommendations to improve public health
     protection.

6.    Increase outreach to fishing families and fish consumers,
     especially women, low-income, and minority populations
     through religious, cultural and public health and human
     services outlet, and high profile TV, radio and billboard
     ads. 

7.    Establish a fund from the polluters who cause consumption
     advisories to 1) pay for the public education campaigns, 2)
     fund additional research on the dangers of eating polluted
     fish such as the Great Lakes Fish Eaters Study done by U.S.
     Public Health Service and others, 3) Clean up the pollution
     sources such as polluted bottom sediments and toxic mercury
     pollution.

8.   Keep the public education campaigns in place until 95% of
     the population is aware of the problems associated with the
     consumption of contaminated fish and harvestable wildlife
     and the source of the pollution is cleaned up to a level
     which eliminates the need for such advisories.

     
For more information, contact Brett Hulsey or Eric Uram at the
Sierra Club, 608-257-4994.  Thank you.

                                             Sincerely,



Brett Hulsey
Great Lake Program Director
Sierra Club