Urban anglers' perception of risk from contaminated fish

Kerry Kirk Pflugh, Lynette Lurig, Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Stanley Von Hagen, Joanna Burger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The Newark Bay Complex includes the Newark Bay, tidal portions of the Hackensack River, Passaic River, Arthur Kill, and Kill van Kull. It is a highly industrialized urban area including five counties and more than 20 local governments with a large racially-mixed population of more than 3 million people. In 1982, research conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) showed elevated levels of chemical contaminants in five species of fish and one type of crab in the Newark Bay Complex. Subsequently, the State of New Jersey adopted advisories to guide citizens on safe consumption practices for fish and crabs. Since then, fish consumption advisories have been issued primarily through the Fish and Game Digest, a publication distributed by the state to licensed anglers. However, anglers in the Complex are not required to have a fishing license because the waters are marine. Therefore, most anglers in this area do not receive advisory information. To gain greater insight into the information sources and risk perceptions of urban anglers, a survey was conducted of 300 anglers at 26 fishing and crabbing locations in the Newark Bay Complex during the summer and early fall of 1995. The objectives of the study were to learn anglers': (1) knowledge of fish consumption advisories; (2) belief in the advisories; (3) perception of how safe fish are to eat; (4) sources for information about fish and fishing; and (5) sources for information on fish consumption advisories. The study concluded that while 60% had heard about advisories, they either did not believe or were unconcerned about health effects from eating contaminated species. In addition, the most used source for information about fish and fishing was other fishermen, while newspapers were selected as a source for information about community news, health, and food safety. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-218
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 5 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


  • Consumption
  • Fish contamination
  • Human health
  • Risk perception
  • Urban anglers

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