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Updated Fish Contaminant Levels and Consumption Advisories for Porcupine Lake

Timmins, Ontario - Tuesday, November 3, 2020

After receiving the results of a recent fish sampling study done in June 2019 by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) at Porcupine Lake in Whitney Township, the Porcupine Health Unit has reviewed the data in consultation with experts at Public Health Ontario regarding public health recommendations.

“The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has shared the updated advisory information and we want to provide the public information regarding this and the changes to the recommended meals per month with fish caught from the lake.  In addition, we urge the public to review the information in this guide prior to any fishing trip to see the restrictions for any fish captured in the waterway they intend to visit,” said Dr. Lianne Catton, Medical Officer of Health at the Health Unit. 

The fish sample study results were shared with the Porcupine Health Unit, the City of Timmins, the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority and the Porcupine Watershed Liaison Committee. The results demonstrated elevated concentrations of mercury and chromium in various species of fish. This study has prompted the Government of Ontario to update consumption advice in the publication Guide to Eating Ontario Fish. Previous advisories, due to elevated levels of mercury, for Northern Pike, Walleye and White Sucker have become more restrictive and there is a new advisory for Yellow Perch.

A summary of the updated advisories:

Northern Pike (40-60 cm)

  • General population: Two meals per month (previously four).

Walleye (40-65 cm)

  • General population: One meal per month (previously two).

White Sucker (35-50 cm)

  • General population: One meal per month (previously eight).
  • Women of child-bearing age and children under 15: No meals per month (previously four).

Yellow Perch (25-30 cm)

  • General population: One meal per month.
  • Women of child-bearing age and children under 15: No meals per month (no previous recommendations were provided for this size).

The MECP has committed to investigating the potential sources of chromium in Porcupine Lake and will share those results with the Porcupine Health Unit once available. The Porcupine Health Unit will continue to actively follow reported information and provide updates to the public regarding potential concerns for public health.

Dr. Catton adds, “Anglers using any Ontario lake should consult the interactive Guide to Eating Ontario Fish map online for advisories and track their monthly intake of fish based on the specific advisories for that water body.”

The Porcupine Health Unit is located in Northeastern Ontario, serving the entire Cochrane District and Hornepayne, in Algoma District. The main office is located in Timmins, Ontario, with branch offices in Cochrane, Hearst, Hornepayne, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Matheson, Moosonee and Smooth Rock Falls.