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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
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   GEC's environmental justice educational project, aimed primarily at subsistence fishers and people who eat locally caught seafood in Glynn County, has begun.  The campaign will teach the locations of local fish consumption advisories, the kinds and numbers of fish which may be safely eaten, and how to best clean and prepare them.  The project will last from now through August.

 The campaign, officially titled "Education and Training to Reduce Human Health Risks Associated With Consumption of Contaminated Seafood in Brunswick, GA", is a partnership between the Glynn County Health Department (GCHD), the Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the GA Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), the Environmental Toxicology Program of the GA Environmental Protection Division (EPD), and the Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC).  The project is funded by an Environmental Justice grant to the GEC from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    "While it is essential to spread the word about the health benefits of eating seafood," says Gary Hummel, Environmental Health Specialist at the Glynn County Health Dept., "it is also essential to outline the potential hazards in some select areas."

    The first phase of the project -- development of an educational tool for community dissemination -- has already been completed.  PDF copies of the result are available in both English and Spanish, or you may receive hard copies by contacting the Coalition. The English version was mailed out in the May-June issue of the Coalition newsletter. It was not easy to create this document.  Pages of complex information on varying advisories for different types of seafood in different parts of Glynn County's estuarine system had to be combined into a simple, graphically-understandable two-sided, one sheet presentation.
    Dr. Randy Manning, Coordinator of the EPD's Environmental Toxicology Program, helped combine the multiple advisories into one.  He pointed out that "this is an excellent example of an educational resource developed primarily by local interests and tailored to address specific community needs. The public should note," says Manning, "that these are advisories about consumption, not about fishing.  It is always safe to catch a fish; it may not always be safe to eat it."  Glynn County advisories cover the entire Turtle River system from the Jekyll pier to its headwaters and parts of Terry Creek, Dupree Creek, and Back River.  The education piece highlights these areas in bright yellow.

    According to the DNR's "Guidelines For Eating Fish From Georgia Waters", (available in the Coalition's Resource Center) the contaminants of concern in these areas are PCB's, mercury, and toxaphene and related compounds.  "These contaminants can cause serious health effects," says Manning.  "The public needs to take the recommended limits on consumption of fish from these areas seriously."

   The flyer shows how many meals of which types of fish may be eaten monthly from the advisory areas.  These guidelines assume a portion size of four to eight ounces per meal.

    "But," cautions Hummel, "women who are pregnant or nursing and children under the age of seven who eat contaminated seafood are at higher risk. This group should  strictly adhere to the published guidelines and may wish to reduce their intake of selected fish types from the advisory areas.  Don't stop eating seafood; it is a most important source of nutrition, providing essential proteins, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals."

    The GEC has contracted with Clyde Williams to do public outreach with the educational flyer.  Frank Lea, Coalition President, says "We are very fortunate to have Mr. Williams handling this part of the project.  He has been fishing our local waters for more than 50 years and knows who needs this information."  Mr. Williams had a 42 year career in public education in McIntosh and Glynn Counties.  He was the Principal of Glynn Academy from 1980 --to 1994.  And he has a personal interest in this project.

    "The Turtle River area was one of my favorite fishing spots before the pollution was discovered," states Williams.  "I have to wonder what effect eating those fish has had on me and my family.  I want to be sure no one is harmed by eating fish from there." 
    Williams will concentrate on disseminating the full-color flyer and on teaching people how to properly clean and prepare locally caught fish.  He is taking the flyer throughout the community to places where people who need this information can get it.  It is available in both English and Spanish from the maternity ward at the Hospital, from CRD and the Health Department, and from many bait shops, fishing license purchase points, and at fishing spots themselves.  Copies have been laminated for posting at docks and boat ramps and for use in fish shops.  The Spanish version is being disseminated by the local Latin-American Association.  Interested parties may also call the GEC directly at 466-0934.

  Clyde Williams posting the seafood consumption flyers at a local boat ramp

    Williams and Spud Woodward, the Assistant Director for Marine Fisheries at CRD, are working on a plan to do hands-on education for the local community. "Printed materials are a great way to educate the public, but there is no substitute for talking with people" says Woodward.  "We look forward to helping Mr. Williams show anglers how to
prepare their catch in a way that reduces risk of exposure to contaminants."  Groups wishing to schedule such a program may contact the GEC at 466-0934.

    Other contact numbers are 264-3931 for the Glynn County Health Department and 264-7218 for the Coastal Resources Division.

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September 2006 addendum:
Click below for PDF copy of the updated 2006 FULL COLOR FLYER:
                                   English version Spanish version



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