Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (Rocky Bay) First Nation relies on locally harvested fish with walleye being the most commonly consumed fish. However, hydroelectric developments near their traditional territory negatively impact the quality of fish. Indeed, mercury levels in fish from Lake Nipigon and the surrounding area continue to be a major concern for community members. The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change developed fish consumption guidelines for walleye and northern pike for the Namewaminikan (Sturgeon) River system.
The purpose of this study was to measure methylmercury levels in fish species and determine the need for consumption advisories. Fish, such as brook trout, burbot, cisco, lake trout, pike, sucker, walleye, and whitefish were sampled and analyzed for mercury concentrations.
The results showed that mercury in all samples of whitefish, cisco and brook trout were below the Health Canada guideline of 0.5 ppm, whereas many samples of walleye, northern pike, lake trout and sucker had elevated levels of mercury.
The study developed community-specific fish consumption guidelines indicating the maximum number of monthly fish meals that can be safely eaten by the sensitive and general populations for various fish species of various lengths in various locations. No consumption advisory was necessary for whitefish, cisco and brook trout. However, further sampling and analysis of these fish species was recommended to increase confidence in this finding. The study highlighted the need for community members to be aware of consumption guidelines when consuming fish from the Namewaminikan (Sturgeon) River.