Ask 13: Is your catch from the French Broad safe to eat?

"Is it safe to eat fish caught out of the French Broad River?" Tina Shelton, of Marshall, wrote to Ask 13. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

It won't be long now until folks will be getting the itch to go fishing. But are fish from the French Broad River OK to eat?

The French Broad is very popular with fishermen. And folks eat fish from the river all the time. But consumption of the fish does come with some warnings.

"Growing up, we've always fished and eaten our catch out of the French Broad River. After growing older and hearing horror stories of what's in the water, I couldn't bear the thoughts," Tina Shelton, of Marshall, wrote to Ask 13. "Until recently, my mom served the best catfish dinner. When I found out it came out of the French Broad River, I turned to News 13. Is it safe to eat fish caught out of the French Broad River?"

Local fishermen say those waters hold plenty of fish, mostly bass and muskie, a rare but exciting catch.

The local riverkeeper directed News 13 to the state's Health and Human Services website, where the agency lists fish consumption advisories.

There are no specific advisories for the French Broad River, but health officials warn folks not to consume too much fish (bass, pickerel, catfish, perch and crappie) high in mercury.

The advisory said women from ages 15-44 should not consume fish high in mercury. All others should limit their consumption to one 6-ounce serving per week.

News 13 contacted the Department of Environmental Quality, which referred the question to its Water Resources Department. But so far, there's been no response.

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