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Release Date: 3/24/1999
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

    SAN FRANCISCO -- New signs warning fishermen not to eat white croaker, a bottom-feeding fish contaminated with DDT and PCBs, have been posted on the Palos Verdes peninsula this month.  The product of a local, state and federal partnership, ten signs have been prominently posted in popular fishing areas in an effort to protect public health.
    "White croaker is by far the most heavily contaminated fish in the Palos Verdes area," said Keith Takata, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional Superfund director.  "We want people to know that the white croaker caught in this area shouldn't be eaten because of potential health risks."
    The warning signs are based on fish advisories issued by the Cal/EPA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).  Sediments off White's Point on the Palos Verdes peninsula contain high levels of DDT and PCBs.  While many fish are contaminated,
white croaker, also known as kingfish or tomcod, is the only fish in the area that OEHHA advises people not to eat.
    Eating white croaker from this area could pose significant cancer risks to adults.  Also, nursing infants whose mothers regularly consume the fish, as well as both children and adults, may be at risk for effects to the liver and nervous system.
    As part of its ongoing Superfund investigation of DDT and PCB-contaminated sediments off the Palos Verdes coast, EPA is evaluating contaminant levels in fish and the health risks associated with consumption of locally-caught fish.
    "For far too many years, unsuspecting fishermen have been consuming contaminated white croaker caught near the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site," said Mark Gold, executive director of Heal the Bay.  "The actions of EPA, OEHHA, and LACDHS will insure that      local fishermen are aware of this serious health threat."
    Since 1985, fish consumption advisories have been in effect in Southern California, including the Santa Monica Bay area.  Signs were once posted by the county to inform fishermen of these advisories, but over the years the signs have been stolen, vandalized or fallen into disrepair.
    The recent fish consumption warning signs were prepared as a joint effort by the U.S. EPA, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, OEHHA, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project, Heal the Bay and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    The California Department of Fish and Game sport fishing regulations contain fish consumption guidelines for other fishes covered by advisories.  Consumption of kelp bass, rockfish, queenfish, black croaker, surfperches, and sculpin should be limited as well.  Copies of fishing regulations are available at sporting goods stores and baitshops.