New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 18, 2009:

PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS HALT BATAAN LAKE CATFISH STOCKINGS

CARLSBAD -- Bataan Lake in Carlsbad will not be stocked with channel catfish this summer in an effort to protect the public from possible consumption of fish contaminated with toxic PCBs.

According to a New Mexico Environment Department fish consumption advisory, no channel catfish from Bataan Lake longer than 14 inches should be eaten because large fish in the lake were found to be contaminated with PCBs. Channel catfish that are stocked in the Department of Game and Fish summer "Big Cats" program are 17 inches or larger.

"Obviously, the large stocked catfish would not contain PCBs, but the angling public would not be able to tell the difference and might consume a fish with potentially high PCB levels that had been in the lake a while," Department Fisheries Chief Mike Sloane said. "We need to take the fish consumption advisories seriously to protect the public."

The Department's winter trout stocking program at Bataan Lake will continue as planned Nov. 1 through March 31, when water temperatures are cooler and will support the trout. No trout from Bataan lake have been tested for PCB contamination, but biologists say chances of trout being contaminated are slim because they are in the lake only a short time.

The catfish scheduled to be stocked in Bataan will be stocked in other waters that participate in the Department's "Big Cats" program. Lakes that are stocked with large catfish every summer include Bosque Redondo, Burn, Carrizozo, Chaparral, Corona, Escondida, Estancia Park, Eunice, Grants Riverwalk Pond, Green Acres, Green Meadow, Jal, Lake Van, McGaffey, Oasis State Park, and Tingley Beach.

Anglers can find more information about fish consumption advisories for waters statewide in the Fishing Rules & Information Booklet. It is available at all license vendors and Department offices, and can be downloaded online at www.wildlife.state.nm.us. The advisories also are available at www.nmenv.state.nm.us/swqb/advisories.

Anyone with questions about the fish consumption advisories can call the Environment Department's Surface Water Quality Bureau at (505) 827-2470 or toll-free at (866) 885-2997. Questions about health concerns related to consumption of contaminants should be directed to the Department of Health's Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau at (505) 476-1734 or toll-free at (800) 879-3421.

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