Assessment of contaminant body burdens and histopathology of fish and shellfish species frequently used for subsistence by Alaskan Native communities.
Author(s): Apeti, D., S.I. Hartwell, M. Myers, J. Hetrick, and J. Davenport
NCCOS Center: CCMA
Center Team: COAST
Name of Publisher: North Pacific Research Board
Place of Publication: Silver Spring, MD
Publication Type: NOAA Special Reports
Date of Publication: 2013
Reference Information: NPRB Project 1019 Final Reports
Extent of Work: 64 pp.
Abstract: Subsistence food items can be a health concern in rural Alaska because community members often rely on fish and wildlife resources not routinely monitored for persistent bioaccumulative contaminants and pathogens. Subsistence activities are a large part of the traditional culture, as well as a means of providing protein in the diets for Tribal members. In response to the growing concerns among Native communities, contaminant body burden and histopathological condition of chum and sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus keta and Oncorhynchus nerka) and the shellfish cockles and softshell clams (Clinocardium nuttallii and Mya arenaria) were assessed. In the Spring of 2010, the fish and shellfish were collected from traditional subsistence harvest areas in the vicinity of Nanwalek, Port Graham, and Seldovia, AK, and were analyzed for trace metals and residues of organic contaminants routinely monitored by the NOAA National Status & Trends Program (NS&T). Additionally, the fish and shellfish were histologically characterized for the presence, prevalence and severity of tissue pathology, disease, and parasite infection. The fish and shellfish sampled showed low tissue contamination, and pathologic effects of the parasites and diseases were absent or minimal. Taken together, the results showed that the fish and shellfish were healthy and pose no safety concern for consumption. This study provides reliable chemistry and histopathology information for local resource managers and Alaska Native people regarding subsistence fish and shellfish use and management needs.
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