TORONTO (CP) – Canada is lagging behind the United States in efforts to clean up the Great Lakes and the proof is in growing numbers of contaminated fish that are unsafe for consumption, conservation group Environmental Defence said Thursday.
By following trends in the Ontario government’s annual Guide to Eating Sport Fish, the group compiled a report that found consumption advisories are generally getting worse, with relatively few exceptions.
The report focused on 13 locations across the Great Lakes and four species of fish within each region. Lakes Huron and Ontario fared the worst, with a growing number of cases where eating even one fish a month would be hazardous.
The report is not meant to discourage people from eating fish, said policy director Aaron Freeman, but should be a wake-up call to the public about the possible dangers of eating what they catch from the Great Lakes.
It should also shame the federal government into action, he added.
“It is interesting to note that George Bush’s America is stepping up to the plate far greater than Canada. We are falling behind,” Freeman said.
“For the first time, we are dealing with a situation where the United States is taking unilateral action to manage the Great Lakes without Canada, because we haven’t shown any leadership.”
In the United States, there are bills working their way through Congress that would commit US$20 billion to cleanup efforts but the Canadian government has offered virtually nothing for the Great Lakes, Freeman said.
In addition to more types of fish being deemed unsafe, the report notes that smaller fish are also being affected by growing levels of contamination.
The public needs to know more about what they are eating and more in-depth information should be added in subsequent editions of the annual fish guide, the report recommends.
The government only lists which fish are dangerous to eat but doesn’t adequately reveal why, Freeman said, adding that there should be specific data available on actual levels of contaminants in fish, as well as historical levels of contamination.