This project is an integrated assessment that will review the causes, consequences, and correctives for contamination on the Detroit River. More specifically, it will look at the reasons why fish contamination advisories are issued when they are. The project seeks to bring policy-makers, interested stakeholders, scientists, and governmental agencies together on both the Canadian and United States sides of the shore to talk about new information concerning PCB contamination and integrate historical elements to create new approaches to manage of the River. We aim to help in protecting the health and safety of the people who fish on the Detroit River, the ecosystems that house them, and the economy that depends on fishing.

NOAA-GLERL Fish Consumption Advisories Project

Why focus on fish advisories now?
Currently, the Detroit River remains under several fish consumption advisories that impact both human health and economic revenue. Despite the critical importance of these advisories, little progress has been made in developing effective management strategies. Many uncertainties remain regarding the drivers behind these advisories, including the relative contribution of sediment hot spots, the role of point versus non-point contaminant sources, and the appropriateness of methods in setting and identifying allowable contamination levels for consumption advisories. Because of these complexities, solutions for remedying consumption advisories will require novel approaches directed at both decreasing contamination in fish over the long-term and reducing human health risks in the short- and long-term.

Goals of this Project
  • Synthesize and summarize the status and trends of fish contaminant levels and advisories in the Detroit River
  • Describe the causes and consequences of fish consumption advisories, with an emphasis on model simulation and explanatory analysis
  • Identify the key uncertainties regarding consumption advisories for use in research, monitoring efforts, and in management and policy directives
  • Provide technical guidance in implementing policy and management options

The project will act as a pilot...
We envision this effort as a pilot project that can be expanded to other contaminants of concern in the Detroit River and to other impacted areas in the state of Michigan that are under consumption advisories. We are also interested in using this project as the basis for future efforts to assess the effectiveness of consumption advisories in effecting behavior changes in recreational and subsistence fisherpersons.

Why use an integrated assessment?
The IA framework explicitly promotes collaboration and participation of multiple interested groups. We seek out the active participation of different stakeholder groups to identify and achieve feasible goals. This will foster the connections between the science, management or policy outcomes, and the demands of invested citizens. This information will be crucial in guiding management initiatives. The collaborative effort will provide a framework for addressing advisories for other contaminants of concern in the Detroit River and at other areas of concern.

Steps Toward Collaboration
  • Identifying Stakeholders: Any public, private or community organization who is concerned or involved with the release of PCB's, developing advisories, or is affected by contaminants in the Detroit River system.
  • Four workshops: The science-stakeholder connection will be the focus of four workshops designed to evaluate the goals and desired outcomes from the information provided by the scientific assessment.
  • Ecosystems Management Initiative: To ensure effective collaboration, workshops will use the Ecosystems Management Initiative to guide the meetings.

Our goal is to bring stakeholders together for a common understanding of issues related to PCB contaminant advisories and have them develop an action plan on contaminant advisories...

"Stakeholders are the most crucial part to collaboration. Different stakeholders come together for vested self-interest and they actually DO relate in a network. These relationships play over and over again in different situations. A clear mapping of these relationships will help minimize negative connections and highlight the positive." - Rose Ellison, US EPA
Fish Consumption Advisories in the Detroit River: Progress Towards a Solution
Venue: Belle Isle Nature Zoo, (Detroit, MI)

Objectives & Agenda

In preparation for the workshops, we will be inviting organizations and agencies who are invested in and play an important role in policy making and/or management of water contamination in the Detroit River to participate in a short survey. The goal of this survey is to provide information that your organization/agency as well as other organizations can use to understand the roles and connections among different stakeholders in the Detroit River, what resources and capacities exist within this system, as well as possibly identify new opportunities for strengthening connections. Findings will be shared with stakeholders during our first workshop on November 13th.

Survey Summary (coming soon)