Addressing seafood contamination for subsistence fishers: An environmental justice issue

JHA presented Addressing seafood contamination for subsistence fishers: Community participatory learning & action at the Environmental Protection Agency, Region X on January 28th. Since 2014, JHA has received two Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) grants to explore opportunities to protect subsistence fishers from consuming contaminated resident seafood harvested from the Lower Duwamish Waterway (LDW) Superfund Site in Seattle. (See March 3, 2015 blog for more background information). With our first round of funding, we used a Participatory Learning & Action (PLA) model to assemble a set of Vietnamese subsistence fishers and their friends and family who bought or prepared caught fish as means to: 1. Explore Vietnamese values, attitudes, and cultural practices around subsistence fishing; 2. Determine what culturally appropriate educational action tools and methods could be provided to the Vietnamese community; and 3. Determine what alternatives to fishing the LDW could be provided to the Vietnamese community that would not compromise their health and well being. At the request of and assistance from the Vietnamese Advisory Group, we developed three educational action tools (maps with alternative fishing locations published in 9 languages (examples: Vietnamese salt, Vietnamese lake); editorial printed in two Vietnamese news papers; and a digital story: Fishing and Us ( ).

With our second round of funding, the JHA team is responding to the Vietnamese Advisory Group’s request to explore the feasibility of alternatives to fishing the Duwamish River. This includes working with WA Fish & Wildlife to explore educational options to learn about fishing regulations instead of fining for first time violations, and conducting research on  alternative pier locations and amenities that could be used in lieu of the two fishing piers on the Duwamish River. We are also repeating our PLA model with a Latino Advisory Group.

The subsistence fisher project is funded by the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. The project is a collaborative effort between JHA, International Community Health Services, Sea Mar Community Health Services, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle, Public Health-Seattle & King County, WA State Department of Health, University of Washington, and Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.

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