TDEC Issues Precautionary Fish Consumption Advisory for Black Bass on Chilhowee Reservoir in Monroe and Blount Counties

Thursday, September 07, 2023 | 10:43am

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) today announced a precautionary fish consumption advisory for black bass due to mercury on Chilhowee Reservoir in Monroe and Blount counties.

TDEC advises that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children avoid eating the fish in the advisory and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month. Other recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, swimming, wading, and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk.

In 2019 and 2020, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), in cooperation with TDEC, collected fish for tissue analysis on Chilhowee Hill Reservoir for all black bass species. Fish were analyzed for mercury by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) through a contract with TDEC. An impoundment on the Little Tennessee River, Chilhowee Reservoir is between the Chilhowee Dam and Calderwood Dam near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

The advisory applies to all black bass species for the entirety of the reservoir based on data exceeding Tennessee’s trigger point for mercury. Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) were above the mercury trigger point of 0.3 mg/kg with .54 mg/kg. The advisory is consistent with TDEC’s responsibilities under the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act.

“We provide these advisories so the community can make informed decisions about whether or not to consume the fish they catch,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young. “Unlike ‘Do Not Consume’ advisories that warn the general population to avoid eating fish from a particular body of water altogether, precautionary fish consumption advisories are specifically directed to sensitive populations such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those who may eat fish frequently from the same body of water.”

TDEC will post warning signs at primary public access points and will work with the TWRA to communicate this information to the public.

About Fish Consumption Advisories

The Tennessee Water Quality Control Act identifies the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as having the authority and responsibility to issue advisories for either water contact hazards like pathogens or excessive health risks due to the accumulation of contaminants in fish or shellfish. Tennessee’s General Water Quality Criteria provide additional guidance regarding the conditions under which advisories may be warranted.

For a complete listing of Tennessee’s current fishing advisories plus additional information about the advisory issuance process, visit this link.