Fish Consumption Notice FAQ

Frequently asked questions about fish consumption notice issued by Metro Parks. Page updated October 6, 2009.

Are fish from Metro Parks fishing lakes safe to eat?
No current data is available, and Metro Parks does not employ technicians who can do this specialized research. The last two lakes tested by an independent entity, in 2005, were deemed to meet EPA standards for consumption of fish at reasonable levels. However, the Kentucky Division of Water has raised concerns about the long-term impact of frequently consuming fish from Metro Parks lakes.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife periodically stocks fresh, healthy trout and channel catfish in many Metro Parks lakes. See the stocking schedule.

There are no current restrictions by any regulatory agency on fish consumption from these lakes. Metro Parks – acting out of caution – is posting signs advising park users that eating fish from these lakes may create health risks. Some of those lakes had previously been posted with advisories about fish consumption. This is not a statement of risk, but rather an advisory of potential risk.

Returning many species of fish to the lake after they are caught also allows them to grow larger and be caught again!

Have toxins been identified in Metro Parks lakes?
The United States is an industrialized nation. Consequently, our air and water contain toxins. Testing conducted in 1999 and 2005 showed varying levels of toxins in fish from our lakes, as would be expected in any body of water or any life form in our nation. The independent firm that conducted the 2005 testing found that it fell within acceptable risk levels; a scientist from a state agency indicated that it did not meet their higher standard for long-term fish consumption.

Does Metro Parks believe that fish from local lakes are hazardous?
The independent testing firm and a scientist from the state differ on the relative risk; the firm conducting the 2005 testing did not believe that a warning about consuming fish was necessary, based on their tests. Metro Parks does not employ qualified toxicology analysts, and we do not have a position on the level of risk. The department remains concerned that some individuals are introducing fish from other locations into our lakes, and is advising that this creates unknown risks.

While Metro Parks lacks the resources to regularly test its lakes – which could cost around $200,000 per year – the agency is taking steps to improve the overall health of its lakes. Metro Parks is working with the Olmsted Parks Conservancy to implement improvements that will reduce pollutants in lakes at Cherokee and Iroquois parks, and Metro Parks worked with the Commonwealth of Kentucky to make substantial improvements at Waverly Park’s lake in 2007 and 2008. The department also worked with the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the 1990s to remove contaminated fish from Chickasaw Park's lake.

What’s next?
The Commonwealth of Kentucky accepted responsibility for managing Metro Parks’ urban fisheries in 2006, and they have indicated that they wish to meet to determine next steps. Meanwhile, Metro Parks is notifying park users who choose to fish from our lakes that there may be risks associated with long-term consumption of some of these fish.

Kentucky Division of Water
Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources