The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control recently announced a new initiative to help fishermen determine if the fish caught out of a specific body of water are fit to eat.

Called South Carolina Fish Consumption Advisories, the slogan is "Fish Smart, Eat Smart."

DHEC has tested fish from bodies of water across the state, taking samples that are tested for certain chemicals to determine if the fish are contaminated with mercury. Once the data is analyzed, DHEC issues fish consumption advisories where needed.  

According to the DHEC Website, mercury has the greatest effect on the growing body because the brain and nervous system are still developing. Certain groups of people – babies, children under 14, women who are nursing or pregnant and women who plan to become pregnant – are at higher risks than others. These groups of people are warned to be careful about the types and amounts of fish they eat.  

To help the at-risk groups remain safe, DHEC advises they only eat one meal of freshwater fish each week from a body of water without and advisory. If the water where the fish is caught does have an advisory, it's advised to not eat any of the fish. People in the high-risk groups are advised not to eat any king mackerel, shark, swordfish or cobia, no matter where they're caught.  

Some of the more notable bodies of water that currently fall under the "Do Not Eat Any" category include:

 

· Lake Hartwell: Hybrid/striped bass;

· Langley Pond: Channel catfish and largemouth bass;

· Combahee River (from Salkehatchie River to U.S. Hwy. 17): Largemouth bass, mudfish and chain pickerel;

· Coosawhatchie River: Mudfish, chain pickerel, largemouth bass and warmouth; 

Edisto River (Entire River to Willtown Bluff): Channel catfish, flathead catfish, chain pickerel, mudfish and largemouth bass.  To see if your favorite lake or stream is included, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/index.htm.