Attention Smelt Fans In Minnesota and Wisconsin: Be Careful How Much You Eat
Larry Smith Outdoors Via YouTube
Let me rack up one more thing that I learned about when I moved to Duluth, harvesting smelt. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural resources: "Rainbow smelt, silver-colored fish about 6 to 9 inches long, is an exotic species to Lake Superior." The overall population has declined since the 1970s but still remains a popular pastime in the Northland.
With the long winter we had and cold spring the harvesting of smelt is about a month behind, but on top of that health officials are advising that people be careful of how much smelt they eat at one time. According to CBS3: Don Schreiner, a Fisheries Specialist for Minnesota Sea Grant said " We wanted to inform people that fish consumption advisories had changed for rainbow smelt."
Schreiner went on to say a recent test has discovered a dangerous amount of a certain chemical in the fish known as PFAS or Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This chemical ends up in the water through runoff and is found in things like nonstick pans, water repellents, and more. The issue with that is this chemical can cause cancer which obviously is a major health concern.
Therefore, Schreiner suggests that if you are going to eat rainbow smelt out of Lake Superior that you limit the amount you eat to 1x a month. Health officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota have issued a similar suggestion on how much smelt might be safe for the average person to consume.
Minnesota, State Senator Jen McEwen issued a statement regarding combatting this chemical from getting into our lakes and rivers. See her statement here. One of the traditions apparently is to bite the head off of one of the smelt from the first net that is hauled in. I think I would barf if I saw someone do that and honestly, I almost did when I saw it in the video below.