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By Anna Bisaro, New Haven Register
Photo Credit: Catherine Avalone — New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN >> As Aly Tatchol Camara biked to the very edge of Criscuolo Park, fishing poles slung on his back, he found he would not be alone at Grape Vine Point this cold, March evening.
Two poles already rested on the stone wall, lines dropped into where the Mill and Quinnipiac rivers meet before emptying into Long Island Sound. A 13-year-old boy told Camara through his shivering that he hadn’t had any luck yet that night in catching anything. The boy said he was there to try to bring fish home to his family.
Just to the right of the poles was a sign from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protectionwarning that if anyone spots raw sewage in the water, they are to call and report the sighting.
Combined sewer overflows, contaminated storm water runoff, lawn fertilizers and lingering chemicals from dozens of power and manufacturing plants are just some of the pollutants hurting Greater New Haven watersheds. All three rivers in Greater New Haven — West, Mill and Quinnipiac — are on theimpaired waters list of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
While pollution limits activities like swimming and paddling in these rivers, it also poses a significant risk to those who consume fish from them. Thestate Department of Public Health advises that any fish caught from the Quinnipiac River should be consumed only once a month, due to the dangerous contaminants present in fish tissue. Blue crab from the Mill River should not be eaten at all, the department warns in its 2016 consumption guide.
Camara, 51, said it was still a little too early in the year to catch much, but he said he likes spending his summer evenings at the edge of Criscuolo Park. A native of West Africa, Camara has been in the United States since 1996, he said, and he now teaches African dance and drumming in New Haven.
He mostly fishes for sport, releasing much of what he gets, he said. Fishing in the evenings keeps him away from television and out of trouble, he said with a laugh.
“This is a place for us to spend time,” Camara said. “You meet a lot of friends here.”
Based on the health advisories from the state health department for 2016, fish in the Quinnipiac may be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly referred to as PCBs. The recommendation that any species of fish caught in the river only be consumed once a month applies to both high-risk and low-risk groups. Continue reading . . .