The flavour of fish caught in the Detroit River has been assessed and has been found to be “not impaired," according to a study by the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup and Detroit River Public Advisory Council.
The group said research and surveys of Detroit River on-water and shoreline anglers indicated that the fish in the river does not taste or smell any differently than they should. The vast majority of survey participants who ate fish from the Detroit River indicated that they did so because it “tastes good."
No one reported that the taste of Detroit River fish was “poor."
The group didn't say how many people were surveyed.
Fisherman David Weil said he thinks the fish in the river are perfectly fine to eat.
"I've pulled many walleye and many perch out of Lake Erie. I've pulled many out of [Lake] St Clair and I've pulled many out of the Detroit River. In my opinion I can't tell the difference. They all taste great to me," said the 21-year-old college student, who is about to fly off to a fly-in fishing lodge for summer work.
Jonathon Toney has been fishing the river for two years. He said there's no evidence to suggest the fish are dangerous or taste bad. He's caught and ate perch, silver bass, and walleye from the Detroit River.
"Once I see a third eye or an extra mouth or something, I'll stop eating the fish," said Toney.
The Detroit River Canadian Cleanup (DRCC) is a community-based partnership initiated in 1998 to cleanup, enhance, restore and sustain the Detroit River ecosystem.
Environment Canada designated the Detroit River an "area of concern" because a review of available data indicated that water quality and environmental health were "severely degraded."
It is anticipated Environment Canada will delist the river as an area of concern by 2025.
The river is still listed as an area of concern for the Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research at the University of Windsor, too. However, researchers expect it to be taken off the list in 3-5 years.
According to the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup, over the years, pollution reduction regulations and recovery actions have addressed the pollutants known to cause or contribute to this tainting of fish flavour.
Doug Haffner, senior Canada research chair in Great Lakes research, told CBC News last spring several things have changed over the years.
"The industries along the Detroit River have actually disconnected themselves from the river, so the discharges are now going to the waste water treatment plants," Haffner said. "We've seen that the storm water overflows have been corrected; we've done things in terms of correcting toxic chemicals, in terms of the discharge of PCBs and mercury into the system."
"Our waters are getting cleaner, pollution levels are decreasing and our ability to enjoy aquatic recreational activities is improving," said Mary Bohling, chair of the Detroit River Public Advisory Council. "There’s still work to be done but we continue to make progress each and every year thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and our Canadian partners."