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Jul 8, 2011

BELPO concerned about mercury in Bay Snook and other fish

On Thursday night we told you about an advisory to consumers on the levels of mercury found in the Macal River Bay Snook. The release from the Ministry of Health stated that the levels of mercury have tripled and continue to increase. The samples were taken in April. While the release states that Bay Snook shouldn’t be consumed, Candy Gonzalez of Belize Institute of Environmental Law & Policy says that there should also be concerns about the other fish from the Macal River. She explains how the fish are exposed to mercury.

Candy Gonzalez, President, Belize Institute of Environmental Law & Policy

Candy Gonzalez

“When you impound water on a river then it increases the amount of algae that are found on the riverbanks. And in the algae forms mercury which is natural in its formation. But with the letting out of the water, the algae runs down and then more algae grows especially in the tropics. So there is a constant influx of mercury into the water and the algae. The fish eat the algae with the mercury thus they have higher levels of methyl-mercury in their system. It’s a thing that goes right up the food chain. So the small fish eat the algae, and then the bigger fish then eat the small fish. That’s why you see the highest levels of mercury in the Bay Snook because they are the largest predatory fish in the Macal River And the problem is that it’s not only in the Bay Snook, but it’s in other fish. Now it’s the highest in the Bay Snook, but the press release from the government didn’t mention the other fish, it only mentioned the Bay Snook. And the levels of mercury are especially dangerous to children whose nervous systems are growing and to women who are pregnant and breast feeding because it goes to the fetus or goes to the baby through the mother’s milk. And those are the people that should be most aware of all the fish that have high levels of mercury.”

George Gonzalez

George Gonzalez, We BAD-Belizeans Against the Dam

“A lot of people said that there’s always been mercury in the river which is true. The difference is that before they built the dam, you had flash floods and the flash floods cleaned the river. So every year you started anew so you didn’t have an accumulation of mercury like we have today.”

Gonzalez maintains that the advisory should be upgraded to a warning since other fish are also exposed to high mercury levels and can be dangerous if consumed.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “BELPO concerned about mercury in Bay Snook and other fish”

  1. Joe says:

    This is Belize….we can never do anything the right way…so sad to be pesimistic but it is true

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