(NaturalNews) The first-ever documented case of a cancerous tumor found on a smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania has recently been confirmed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Michigan State University.
The discovery was made by an angler in November 2014 when he caught the fish in the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County, PA. It was subsequently taken to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC); the large, visible growth protruding near its mouth was ultimately deemed a malignant tumor, based on two independent laboratory tests.(1)
It’s said that, while such findings have occurred in the United States, it’s been rare in Pennsylvania. Rare or not, this first-documented case in the state is disturbing and represents concerns over the health of fish, as PFBC Executive Director John Arway expresses.
“As we continue to study the river, we find young-of-year and now adult bass with sores, lesions and more recently a cancerous tumor,” he said, “all of which continue to negatively impact population levels and recreational fishing. The weight-of-evidence continues to build a case that we need to take some action on behalf of the fish.”(1)
River at risk of losing “world-class smallmouth bass fishery” if DEP doesn’t act soon
In 2005, a young-of-year smallmouth bass found in the Susquehanna River was documented with a disease-related mortality. Deaths of these fish have led to their decline in the river, leading PFBC to continually reach out the the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). However, requests for the DEP to look into this matter have been met with resistance; since 2012, the PFBC has not been successful in petitioning the DEP to add the river to Pennsylvania’s bi-annual list of impaired waterways.(1)
“If we do not act to address the water quality issues in the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania risks losing what is left of what was once considered a world-class smallmouth bass fishery,” said Arway. “DEP is expected to release its 2016 list of impaired waters in late fall. We are urging them once again to follow the science and add the Susquehanna River to the list.”(1)
In addition to smallmouth bass with lesions and this recent discovery of a cancerous tumor, the Susquehanna River has been home to another impaired river red flag: intersex fish. Studies in 2010 conducted by U.S. Geological Survey biologists found that over 90 percent of adult male smallmouth bass collected on the Susquehanna River contained immature egg cells, thought to be the result of chemicals in the water that act like hormones. Agricultural pesticides, poultry waste and human personal care products are just some of the factors behind this problem.(2)
More problems persist in waterways, destroying aquatic life
Elsewhere, the issue of microbeads — small beads commonly found in personal care products like exfoliating face and body washes — have presented an issue for those concerned about waterways and fish. The beads make their way into the water, jeopardizing the health of fish and the people who eat them.
In Illinois, for instance, a bill was signed to ban the sale and manufacture of products containing such beads because they were continuously being ingested by fish that mistakenly took the round plastic pieces as fish eggs. Then humans eat the fish, possibly harming themselves by ingesting the tiny bits of plastic.(3)
To get an idea of how much of a problem this has become, consider Lake Michigan. The lake, which is right near Chicago, IL, was found to have about 17,000 bits of microbeads per square kilometer. Other states too, have followed in Illinois’ footsteps, urging a ban on the sale and manufacture of products containing these synthetic beads.(3)
Written by Jennifer Lilley
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