Waste not want not

A Manitoulin Island fishery is the latest to join the 100% Great Lakes Fish pledge to use all parts of fish they harvest- head to tail- by 2025 in a move towards more sustainable fishing practices in the Great Lakes.

Purvis fisheries, which has been operating in Lake Huron since 1882, has recently signed on to the 100% Great Lakes Fish pledge along with 24 other commercial fisheries in the region. The initiative is an innovative solution to reducing waste in the fishing industry, by fostering collaboration between processors, producers and other fishery-adjacent businesses to explore and implement innovative applications for fish byproducts including cosmetics, medical products, nutritional supplements, fertilizer, leather, and other products rather than sending them to a landfill.

Under current practices, up to 60% of each fish caught is used for low-value animal feed or discarded. According to the pledge, the Great Lakes commercial fishery is undervalued and underutilized leading to economic loss and unnecessary waste production. “Using the entire fish can create significant economic returns for the Great Lakes region, creating more jobs, and helping rural economies develop.” says the pledge.

New PFAS research

“Forever chemicals” Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are found throughout the Great Lakes basin’s air, rain, atmosphere, and water, according to a recent study out of O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. These chemicals, used in many industries, are linked to severe health issues like cancer and kidney disease, and have been detected globally, including in remote areas such as the Arctic and Antarctic. “PFAS have become ubiquitous in the environment because of long-range aquatic and atmospheric transport,” reads the study.

The research, led by research associate Chunjie Xia, shows PFAS levels vary across the basin, with higher levels in urban areas like Toronto and lower levels in rural regions. However, rainwater PFAS levels are consistent throughout, indicating widespread contamination. Water contamination is highest in Lake Ontario, which has many urban areas, and is the final Great Lake in the watershed’s’s flow. Lake Superior, which has few urban areas surrounding it, shows the lowest levels of PFAS.

The study suggests precipitation and air are two major contributors to spreading PFAS contamination both within the lakes and around the globe. PFAS levels are expected to rise as detection improves, the authors note, highlighting the need to control PFAS release to protect the Great Lakes.