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.

NPR

Amazon Deal With Simon & Schuster Raises Questions For Other Publishers

Amazon has received a fair amount of bad press lately over its long-running dispute with the Hachette publishing house. So Monday's announcement of a deal with Simon & Schuster took some industry watchers by surprise.
NPR

From NFL To 'Scandal,' Whole Foods Buys TV Ads To Boost Its Brand

A pioneer in selling organic, sustainable groceries, Whole Foods now finds itself beset by competitors. So it's launching its first national ad blitz to sell socially conscious consumers on its story.
NPR

Obama Has To Balance His Base Without Hurting Dems In Red States

If Democrats have a chance of hanging onto Senate seats in southern states, they need to do well with African American voters. But for President Obama, that creates a difficult balance between turning out the base and energizing GOP voters who don't like him.
NPR

In Silicon Valley, Paying For Access To Peace Of Mind

The San Francisco area is the home to the high-tech sector and has a history of embracing Eastern spirituality. Now the two meet in the yoga and meditation classes popular with the local tech workers.

Leave a Comment

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