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
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
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
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.
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: