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Community Assessment of Fish Consumption in Rochester, NY

Fishing in Rochester

Intern holding bassThe New York State Department of Health (DOH) publishes state-wide advisories regarding the consumption of fish caught in state waterbodies. For example, DOH recommends that women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 eat no fish from Lake Ontario and its connecting waters.

Anecdotal reports suggested that many people in Rochester, particularly low-income and immigrant communities, consume more Lake Ontario fish than is recommended by DOH. Our goal was to assess the validity of these claims. We also wanted to gauge the general knowledge of fish consumption advisories within the community.

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) conducted a rapid assessment of communities around Rochester that catch and eat local fish to find out if high fish consumption is really an issue. We found that certain groups, particularly African American and Hispanic anglers, consume more locally caught fish than is recommended. Questions about consumption advisories also revealed a widespread lack of knowledge of local consumption advisories. The COEC plans to work with community groups and state and local agencies to develop educational strategies for reaching anglers who are most at risk of health effects from fish consumption.

Rapid Assessment Methodology and Results

Additional Resources

A selection of literature and outreach materials that were useful for our study