Anacostia Catfish Warning Doesn't Deter Daily Catch | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Anacostia Catfish Warning Doesn't Deter Daily Catch

Play associated audio
Bobby Jones spends most of his days reeling in river catfish from the Anacostia River.
Jessica Gould
Bobby Jones spends most of his days reeling in river catfish from the Anacostia River.

On the banks of the Anacostia River, Southeast, D.C., resident Bobby Jones is doing what he does every day.

"Today I'm fishing," he says.

And it doesn’t take long before he begins bragging about his biggest catch.

"The one that I caught was about 60 pounds of catfish. That was the biggest I ever caught," he says.

That was a good day. But Jones says every day he spends fishing is a good day: "A bad day of fishing is better than a good day's work."

It’s a positive attitude -- and he needs it. Jones has been out of work for five years. So fishing for catfish isn't just a pastime. It's a big part of his diet.

"I just bake them and put a little hot sauce on them. And they’re real good," he says.

But Anacostia Riverkeeper Dottie Yunger, who advocates for clean water, says eating catfish can be dangerous. She says studies show many of the brown bullheaded catfish in the Anacostia have contaminants in their tissues and cancerous lesions on their bodies.

"Will you get immediately sick from eating a fish from the river that might be contaminated? Probably not," she says. "You may not feel any effect. But there are effects that are happening at the cellular level, at the molecular level. It's affecting brain development, it's affecting memory. It's affecting cognitive skills."

Because of the contamination, the District Department of the Environment puts advisories on its website and on fishing licenses, instructing people not to eat the catfish, carp and eel they catch. But Yunger says many anglers aren't aware of the advisories -- because they don’t speak English, have trouble reading, or don’t have access to the Internet.

So in June, a group of local and federal researchers is kicking off a campaign to boost awareness. They plan to survey Anacostia anglers and find out how they can get their message across. The survey is being sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Meanwhile, Jones says he plans to keep on doing what he's doing.

"I grew up fishing and hunting," he says.

And, he says, he hasn't become sick yet.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 30

You can keep things old school with a classic musical and an exhibit featuring watercolor paintings from the 1800s.

NPR

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price

Scientists are trying to raise prized bluefin tuna completely in captivity. An experiment at a Baltimore university is the first successful attempt in North America.
NPR

Senate's Highway Trust Fund Bill Sets Up Conflict With The House

A short-term fix for the nearly empty Highway Trust Fund is a step closer to President Obama's desk. Congress has been talking about the long-term problems with the construction account, but the two chambers have not agreed on a long-term solution.
NPR

Some Loyal Foursquare Users Are Checking Out After Swarm Spinoff

Backlash to the company's move to break its app in two is costing it the users that loved Foursquare the most. "Why do I need two apps when I had one that provided both services?" asked one user.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.