"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Don't Eat The Fish! Man Seen Fishing In Gowanus Canal

(photos by Linda Mariano)

A few days ago, Gowanus resident and activist Linda Mariano came across a man fishing in the Gowanus Canal off the Carroll Street Bridge. He had caught several small fishes, which he had placed in a bucket. She tried to explain to him that the Gowanus Canal is an EPA Superfund site and that it was NOT a good idea to consume the fish. The man did not seem to speak English very well and perhaps did not understand her warning. However, a 'No Fishing' sign with graphics warn people  just a few feet away from where he was standing.
Apparently, this is not the first time he has been seen with his fishing rod and others have apparently warned him as well.

The Federal Environmental  Protection Agency declared the Gowanus Canal a Superfund Site in 2010 because it is one of the most polluted waterbodies in the nation. Once a thriving industrial transportation route, it was contaminated by the Manufactured Gas Plants (MGP), paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants that once operated along the Canal and discharged toxins into it.  To this day, contaminants mixed with raw sewage find their way into the Gowanus through Combined Sewer Overflow points along the canal.

One of the largest sewer overflow pipes happens to be right next to the Carroll Street Bridge at the spot were the man was fishing.

Ironically, one of the factors (besides its toxicity) that earned the Gowanus Canal a spot on the EPA Superfund List was the fact that people were fishing and consuming fish caught in the waterway, especially when the anglers told EPA that they sold the extra catch to local restaurants.

Members of the  Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) have been urging  the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to put up clearer and more urgent No Fishing, No Crabbing and No Swimming signs along the Gowanus. With the CAG's input, NYSDEC has finalized a new version of the signs. which will be put up shortly.

Just yesterday, we walked across the Carroll Street Bridge ourselves and witnessed a huge plume of dirt being discharged from the CSO outfall into the canal. The dirt most probably cane from a construction site on the Par Slope side of the Gowanus.

There was also a plume of raw sewage right next to the Lightstone residential buildings just adjacent to the outflow.

So, please folks, don't eat fish caught in the canal.

Gowanus Canal at the Carroll Street bridge yesterday at 2 pm.


Anonymous said...

Our EPA should start behaving like scientists!

Fish caught in our Gowanus Canal have contaminants equal to fish caught on the East River and Long Island Sound (and then sold at Whole Foods). There is zero evidence that the contaminants of Canal sediment & overflow waters contaminates our fish or crabs. Ingestion of harbor bottom growth (outside of Gowanus b/c nothing grows in our sediment) is the likely culprit of NYC's contaminated fish.

Dept. of Health says just don't eat more than 24 blue crabs each month! Read the report:

Believe in Science - yum yum!

Anonymous said...

Doubt anyone could find 24 blue crabs a month in the canal.

What the Dept. of Health doesn't report on is the effects that canal toxins have on those blue crabs. The toxic conditions like those in the canal have been shown to damage the chemoreception abilities of crabs. Other studies on the reproductive cycle of crabs have shown a significant reduction in the number of larvae produced by female crabs exposed to such toxins. Eating crabs subjected to toxic exposures that also live in human waste water is never a good idea. We have many other less risky food choices around Gowanus to nourish ourselves.

As for the fish, a number of studies have shown over the past decades that toxin form fossil fuels cause chromosomal abnormalities in fish as well as in the American oyster. Barnacles on the other had don't appear to be bothered by such conditions as exist in the canal. But then again, there are better things to eat then barnacles.

For reference, there is an interactive EPA map of all the fish tissue samples reported by states and the toxins found in stripped bass doesn't look good for healthy eating.

Katia said...

Thank you for this information.

equilibrist said...

On the “park rules” sign at the waterfront, it says that fishing is allowed in designated areas only. That suggests that fishing is permitted. I too have read the report about the safe level of fish consumption from the Gowanus, though I’d pass on trying the daily catch myself.

Unknown said...

The fisherman is back again today giving it another go. Despite the warnings, he'll probably live 100+. However, yesterday there was an awful green discharge at the OCS. That's where this guy does his fishing

Katia said...

Oh, yuck!

Anonymous said...

Probably better than the seafood at Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook

superset said...

The Gowanus speaks for itself. No EPA multilingual sign can communicate the risk better than at least 1 eye and a sense of smell. If you're still willing to long-cast off the Carroll St. Bridge after experiencing it and eat your catch... Well it's basically like going to Kittery on Smith on any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know how Kittery is still around? Probably the WORST restaurant in the area

Anonymous said...

In defense of the Kittery I DID have a great lobster roll there about 4 years ago. Pricey. Best lobster roll is Fairway in Red Hook.

Anonymous said...

Anon on Oct 4, please trust science.

It is well documented and we all agree toxins are found in striped bass due to eating bottom growth of the Hudson and Harbor but it is NOT from eating contaminants in the Gowanus Canal, which has no bottom growth. Eating harbor catch is a personal choice but please don't falsely represent that fish caught in the Gowanus Canal are more contaminated than ANY of our NY-NJ Harbor fish.

As for crabs, in August, I spotted +20-30 separate crabs in ONE DAY of hanging out at Gowanus. Please become informed before you make incorrect & opinionated statements.

Chad said...

Just by looking at the pictures, I can imagine the pollution of this river.