Freakish Fish Cancer at Susquehanna River Has Environmental Experts Worried

News & Politics

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission confirmed eariler this week that two independent laboratory tests found a malignant tumor on a single smallmuoth bass in Susquehanna River in Eastern Pennsylvania  -- a first in the river's documented history. According to the Washington Post:

A smallmouth bass caught in the Susquehanna River has a cancerous tumor, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission confirmed this week. Cancer is rare in fish, and the finding adds to an existing concern among wildlife officials about the health of fish living in the region.

Officials started noticing lesions on local bass in 2005, Arway said, and have been petitioning the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ever since to get the Susquehanna River included on the EPA's list of "impaired waterways." That campaign so far has been unsuccessful.

Catch-and-release regulations have been put in place and, according to NPR, authorities are warning people to "avoid consuming fish that have visible signs of sores and lesions."

The  EPA and state authorities are at odds as to the extent greater environmental protections can be of use:

The state DEP did not include the region as an affected site in its most recent biannual report in 2013.

In response, the EPA said it did not have enough information to determine whether the waterway belonged on the list, and left it off. "Although we share the continuing concerns about the health of the smallmouth bass population," the agency said in a statement to NPR, "we do not have sufficient data at this time to scientifically support listing the main stem of the Susquehanna as impaired."

Details as to the cause of the cancer are expected as more testing is done. In the mean time, local affiliate WNEP reports that many Susquehanna River fisherman are spooked. You can watch their report here.

h/t Washington Post / WNEP 

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