LAKE WYLIE, N.C. -- A fish consumption advisory is now in effect for the North Carolina side of Lake Wylie, matching the same advisory instituted last year on the South Carolina side of the lake.
It’s the result of extensive water testing, which showed levels of PCBs in largemouth bass higher than the state allows.
Ask the locals about largemouth bass fishing in Lake Wylie and you'll find most is for sport.
"It's a catch and release,” said Lake Wylie Bait and Tackle owner Brittany Stegall.
However, Stegall sees folks catching them to take them home for dinner.
"Every once in a while at the landing you'll see them fishing and have a string full of bass,” Stegall said.
That advisory says eat just one largemouth bass meal a week.
"We do have people in our community who depend upon fish from the Catawba River for putting food on the table,” said Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman.
But now, fewer fish may be on that dinner table.
"PCBs are an organic compound outlawed in the late 1970s but just don't go away,” Merrryman said. "It was used essentially in electric insulation, in the transmission of electricity."
Merryman says he can’t pinpoint exactly where they came from.
Excessive PCB levels cause health problems for pregnant women, children and the elderly.
The testing which found them and led to the consumption warning started in 2011.
The South Carolina consumption warning was already in effect.
Merryman says it is unfortunate states don't recognize each other's advisories.
"Because apparently the fish know where the state line is in the bottom of the lake,” Merryman said.
Anyone who does catch and eat them is urged to trim the fat.
"Definitely they should read and learn more about how to prepare that food in a safe way,” Merryman said.
That includes baking or broiling so the fat drips away. Fat is where you’ll find PCBs in fish.
The state says sticking to the consumption limit of one largemouth bass meal a week or less will keep people safe.
That same testing also showed crappie and perch in Lake Wylie, popular fish to eat, do not have high levels of PCB’s.