As a collaborative, FCEC not only collaborates internally with its partners, but also externally with other groups wrestling with the complications of fish contamination issues. FCEC stakeholders participated in two forums this fall, both of which addressed strategies for reaching out to the community about fish contamination issues.
In early November the FCEC team took to the road and attended the EPA’s 2009 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish in Portland, OR which addressed issues related to assessing, managing and communicating the health risks of contaminated fish consumption.
Robert Brodberg of Cal-EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment moderated a session focusing on risk communication, a topic important to protecting public health. “High levels of contamination reduce the nutritional health benefits of eating fish,” says Brodberg. “In order for people to get the maximum benefit from the fish they eat they need clearly communicated information on which fish are safe to eat from individual water bodies.”
Alyce Ujihara with California Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Investigations Branch participated in the risk communication session, speaking about a study that explored ways to improve communication with fishermen about fish consumption advisories.
The EPA’s Sharon Lin and SGA’s Tiffany Jonick presented a poster on FCEC’s “Take Home Fish Assessment”, a public outreach risk assessment study that was recently accepted for publication in the journal Social Marketing Quarterly.
Prior to the national forum in Portland, FCEC participated in a workshop hosted by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council to share FCEC’s experience in addressing and communicating fish contamination issues.
“Until these contamination problems are cleaned up, informing the public is the only way to reduce exposure to chemicals in fish and protect public health,” says Ujihara. “The FCEC is unique in that it has been actively engaging fish consumers directly on the piers to inform them about chemicals in fish and encourage them to reduce their exposure.”
Several other FCEC partners shared their thoughts on the issue, including Lin, who oversees the FCEC program and Brodberg, chief of the Fish and Water Quality Evaluation Section, the department responsible for issuing fish consumption advisories.
James Alamillo and Frankie Orrala, FCEC partners from Heal the Bay, and Marita Santos of L.A. County of Public Health, shared their experience related to the creation of signage warning against the consumption of contaminated fish species. Tiffany Jonick and Liz Anderson of S. Groner Associates (SGA) discussed ways to communicate the advisory to the public.
To view more photos of the stakeholder events please click here.