But it was great fun; many others agree. According to the American Sportsfishing Association, as many as 33 million Americans over 16 yrs. of age enjoy the sport and generate $48 billion dollars in equipment, licenses and trips annually. Wisconsin ranks in the top ten states for expenditures spent for fishing. And it’s 3rd for luring in out-of-state, non-resident fishing expenditures. If you like fishing, Wisconsin is a great place to live.
Besides being a lot of fun, the health benefits of eating fish are well known. But there’s the rub. We’re also cautioned to not eat certain kinds of fish too frequently to avoid mercury poisoning. I have a devil of a time remembering which kinds of fish to avoid altogether, which ones I can eat sometimes, and which are considered completely safe.
There’s something just plain un-American about this. It’s as if we’ve collectively shrugged our shoulders and accepted the fact that our waters and fish are toxic.
Mercury pollution primarily comes from coal-fired power plants. They emit 33 tons of mercury in the US annually – about half of all mercury emissions. Coal has been a relatively inexpensive driver of the industrial revolution. It’s been greatly responsible for the wealth and standard of living we enjoy today. But in the 21st century we now understand the health, environmental, and climatic consequences of the continued use of coal. There are better, cost–effective means of fueling our society. We need to transition to them as rapidly as possible. When enjoying a great day of fishing, we shouldn’t have to question whether the food we’ve caught is safe to serve to our families.
Grandpa Tennessen would find this intolerable. We can do better; and we must. Our lakes and rivers need to last a lifetime and for lifetimes to come. They are the only ones we’ll ever have. After all, we are forever… Earthbound.