May 21, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Some Pier Anglers Risk Chemical Exposure

Many fish caught in Santa Monica Bay are unsafe to eat.

By Kai McNamee

Although National Fishing Day, June 18, has come and gone, Santa Monica Pier-goers fish all year — some of them are frequently exposed to highly toxic chemicals. 

Anyone visiting Santa Monica’s historic landmark will notice the scores of fishermen and fishing poles lining the railings of the pier. Under California law, fishing from public piers does not require a license, making pier fishing an accessible activity for locals and tourists alike. 

Pollution, however, poses a serious threat to anyone who eats fish caught in the Santa Monica Bay. 

According to Mannie Mendelson, the owner of the Santa Monica Pier Bait & Tackle shop at the end of the pier, anglers have used the Santa Monica Pier for subsistence fishing as early as the Great Depression. But since then, pollution levels in the bay have changed dramatically. 

Between the 1940s and 1970s, industrial waste discharged into the bay led to dangerous accumulations of DDT and PCBs, chemicals historically found in pesticides. Although DDT and PCB are no longer used, their impacts can still be felt today: consuming DDT or PCB-contaminated fish can result in chronic health problems, according to Frankie Orrala, Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program Manager. 

Fishermen prepare bait before casting their lines.

Continuous, low-level exposure to these chemicals can cause “liver damage, decreased ability to fight diseases, reproductive harm, neurological effects and developmental effects,” Orrala said. 

“Certain areas of the Santa Monica Bay are considered as a Red Zone,” Orrala said, referring to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s designation of Santa Monica Bay as a high pollution area. “People who regularly eat fish caught near the contaminated areas, such as [white croaker, barred sand bass, black croaker, topsmelt and barracuda], face greater health risks because of prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals such as DDT and PCBs.” Signs on the Pier list these five fish as “contaminated,” instructing pier-goers to avoid consuming the tainted fish.

Despite the potential dangers of eating fish caught in the bay, several anglers still eat what they catch. 

Ricardo Camirrinta, a Beverly Hills resident originally from the Philippines, has been fishing from the pier and eating what he catches for 26 years. Mendelson himself sometimes eats what he catches in the Santa Monica Bay. 

“Migrating fish are tastier,” Mendelson said, explaining that he feels safe eating halibut caught in the bay due to its migratory patterns. 

Orella pointed out, however, that bottom-feeding fish, like halibut, are more likely to contain higher concentrations of DDT and PCBs. 

But many people fishing on the Santa Monica Pier practice catch and release. Felix, a Glendale resident originally from Buenos Aires, calls the pier his “second home” — Felix fishes for fun and releases what he catches back into the ocean. 

Ayan Bandyopadhyay, a Northern California resident and senior at the California Institute of Technology, is well aware of the “red zone” designation. 

Bandyopadhyay researched the issue before him and his two friends visited the pier to fish for the first time. Although they weren’t expecting to catch much, they had caught a handful of fish by the third hour of their adventure — the three friends posed for photos with their fish before throwing each of them back into the water. 

Related Posts

Los Angeles Metro Sees 15.9 Percent Increase in Median Rent

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Median rent of $2,258, according to recent report By Dolores Quintana The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the issues of housing...

New Renderings for Frank Gehry Hotel Development in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Project would include hotel, apartments, retail and a museum By Dolores Quintana Slowly but surely, plans for a  Frank Gehry-designed...

Shared Mobility Plummets in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Recent report also shows that nearly half of riders make over $100,000 By Sam Catanzaro Shared mobility use in Santa...

Christopher Dishlip Selected as Santa Monica’s New Assistant Director of Public Works

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Public Works Director Rick Valte announced the selection of Christopher Dishlip as Santa Monica’s new Assistant Director of Public Works....

Letter to Editor: Response to Himmelrich’s “We Walk the Talk” Column

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Beau Marks As a Santa Monica resident, I am dismayed by Sue Himmelrich’s response (“We Walk the Talk,” Santa...

Motional And UberEats Launch Autonomous Deliveries In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

There Are Plans For Expansion Into The Rest Of Los Angeles Motional, a global driverless technology leader, and Uber Technologies...

Winston Pies Opening Third Location In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

The restaurant used to be known as ButterCrust Pies Winston Pies is staying in Santa Monica when opening their third...

Only 10 Vaquita Porpoises Survive, But The Species May Not Be Doomed

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

Hope remains for the porpoise species not only survive but thrive with human help. By Stuart Wolpert The vaquita porpoise,...

The American Cinematheque Brings “Bleak Week” To Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre And The Los Feliz Three Theatre

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

33 Films From 18 Countries In One Week. By Dolores Quintana Sometimes when things are tough and you’re feeling down,...

Man Who Murdered His Family Members Pleads Guilty To Five Other Killings

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Escobar injured an additional seven other people as well.  By Dolores Quintana A man, Ramon Escobar, has pleaded guilty to...

The price of gasoline in Los Angeles County Has Experienced The Largest Increase Since February

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Gasoline prices in Orange County Have Also Increased By Dolores Quintana Regular self-serve gasoline in the county of Los Angeles...

Santa Monica Travel Summit Of 2022 Returns To Take On Tomorrow

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

The Event Was Held At The Jonathan Club On Santa Monica Beach By Staff Writer The 2022 Santa Monica Tourism...

City Council Extends Santa Monica’s Parklet Program: Santa Monica Beat – May 16th, 2022

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* City Council Extends Santa Monica’s Parklet Program * Santa Monica High School Students...

1221 Ocean Avenue Complex Sold For Record Price

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Sold for a record price of $330 million. By Dolores Quintana The Irvine Company has sold 1221 Ocean Avenue to...

Office Construction Is Starting To Rise In Los Angeles

May 15, 2022

May 15, 2022

Property vacancies are still affecting growth.  By Dolores Quintana In March, the Los Angeles Metropolitan area had 3.2 million square...