|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-12-29                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Jerry Mambretti, (409) 983-1104 ext. 222; jerry.mambretti@tpwd.texas.gov; Lance Robinson, (281-534-0101; lance.robinson@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Dec. 29, 2011
Consumption advisory issued for gafftopsail catfish in Sabine Lake
PORT ARTHUR - The Texas Department of State Health Services today advised limiting consumption of gafftopsail (gafftop) catfish from the Texas waters of Sabine Lake because of concerns about chemicals known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). PCBs are known to cause cancer and neurobehavioral and immunological changes in animals.
The advisory recommends limiting consumption to no more than 8 ounces per adult per month. Pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, women who are nursing infants, and children younger than 12 should limit consumption of gafftopsail catfish to no more than one 4 ounce meal per month.
DSHS issued a similar advisory for spotted seatrout and all catfish species from Galveston Bay in July 2008. This advisory remains in effect.
In January 2010, the DSHS Seafood and Aquatic Life Group was awarded project funding through a social services block grant to assess the potential health risks associated with consuming fish from Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake due to the catastrophic flooding that followed Hurricane Ike. Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake received floodwaters from some of the most populated and industrialized coastal areas in the country.
Samples from common species - including spotted seatrout (speckled trout), red drum (redfish), southern flounder and black drum - were analyzed. Only gafftopsail catfish (gafftops) showed potentially harmful levels of PCBs.
"This advisory should have a minimal impact on local fishing," said TPWD Sabine Lake Ecosystem Leader Jerry Mambretti. "Sabine Lake has seen an increase in population numbers of red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder. DSHS samples did not show dangerous levels of contaminants in these and other species commonly found in Sabine Lake."
Sabine Lake is a 68.7-square mile brackish water estuary located on the Texas-Louisiana border in Jefferson and Orange Counties, Texas and Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The Sabine Lake estuary drains approximately 50,000 square miles of Texas and Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico through Sabine Pass and is located adjacent to the large petrochemical producing complex of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur, Texas.
Today's advisory applies to all Texas waters of Sabine Lake including all contiguous Texas waters. Samples were not taken from the Louisiana waters within Sabine Lake.
Since PCBs readily accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish, DSHS recommends anglers reduce exposure to these chemicals by removing the skin, dark (reddish-color) muscle tissue and fatty portions (belly fat, side fat, and fat along the top of the back) before cooking. Baking or broiling skinned, trimmed fish on a rack or grill will allow fat to drip away from the fillet, also reducing exposure. If fish are fried, the frying oil should not be reused. These cooking methods will reduce exposure to many of the most common organic chemical contaminants in fish, including PCBs. Additional information about preparing fish for consumption can be found at the DSHS Web site (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/) and in a brochure published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.atsdrc.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/oakridge013107-TN/appc3.pdf )
For more information, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the TPWD fish consumption ban and advisories Web page (http://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/fish_hunt/)

[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Dec. 29, 2011
Texas State Parks Appeal Raises $335,000 in First Three Weeks
Supporters Reminded: Still Time to Make Year-End Deductible Donations
AUSTIN - More than $335,000 has rolled in since Texas State Parks appealed for help earlier this month, citing a $4.6 million revenue shortfall caused by heat, drought, wildfires and a drop in park visitation.
Park leaders today urged supporters to make a tax-deductible donation before the 2011 tax year ends. And they renewed their call for people to visit state parks, touting cooler weather, parks greening after recent rains, and campfires now allowed again in almost every state park.
"We are tremendously encouraged and very grateful that we've received upwards of $335,000 in barely three weeks, with steady donations continuing to come in," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "That includes a single generous gift of $250,000, and we're hopeful that with more like that, we will reach our $4.6 million goal. But every donation, no matter the size, is important and appreciated."
Park officials continue to stress three ways Texans can help keep state parks open:
--Go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/helpparks to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation.
--Make a donation when you renew your motor vehicle registration.
--Finally, because visitor fees pay for about half of park system operating costs, visit state parks often with family and friends.
TPWD has developed a new Spread the Word web page where park supporters can forward a YouTube video appeal, add an "I Love Parks" Twibbon wrapper on their Facebook profile photo, get buttons or banners for websites or blogs, download posters, and find other ways to share the message.
From Dec. 6-27, people had donated $64,826 online. Another $20,685 had been mailed in, including one check for $10,000. And officials said a steady stream of donations continues to come in each day.
All but about 10 of the 94 Texas State Parks have lifted burn bans, a big change since nearly two-thirds of the parks were not allowing ground campfires this fall because of drought and wildfire danger. Check each park's web page online for the latest information.
As one way to encourage park visits, Texas is participating in the national First Day Hikes program set out by the National Association of State Parks Directors (NASPD). For the first time in Texas, 48 state parks across the state will offer a wide variety of hikes and nature walks on New Year's Day. First Day Hikes in Texas vary in difficulty and fitness levels, and range from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails and along boardwalks, to special bird watching hikes, to climbs into the mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert.
To learn about the various Texas State Parks and their offerings, or to make online camping reservations, visit http://www.texasstateparks.org. Or call state park information at 1-800-792-1112, option 3, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Resources for news media, including photos of drought and wildfires, downloadable video, and radio news soundbites, are in a Park Awareness News Roundup online.
On the Net:
TPWD News Roundup: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/state_parks_appeal_for_help/