Beneath the Surface: Urban Fishing and Environmental Justice
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Urban fishing and shoreline fishing are popular year round activities that have received little attention in research and literature. We specifically looked at Monona Bay and Lake Wingra in Madison to examine the various factors that influence health risk fishing and consuming fish in these waters. While little data exists on definitive measures of known toxicants in the sediment and fish, the history of development around the lakes indicates many toxicants are present and have serious implications for the health of both aquatic ecosystems and anglers consuming fish from these lakes. Proper assessment of the extent of risk that anglers face are thus complicated by limited information. From our preliminary research, we found a pattern of disproportionate risk among minority anglers within Madison and in other states due to variation in fish consumption, cultural and subsistence influences, and disproportionate awareness of risk tied to lack of access to risk communication materials. Through our own collected data of interviews, observations, and informal interviews our data also suggests a similar pattern of higher risk among minority members of the angling community. Our findings illustrate the need for more toxicant testing of fish in Madison in addition to alternative means of current risk communication to more adequately assess risk exposure and close disparities of risk among community members.