DCentric » Anacostia River http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Fishing in the Anacostia a Dangerous Alternative for the Hungry http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/fishing-in-the-anacostia-a-dangerous-alternative-for-the-hungry/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/fishing-in-the-anacostia-a-dangerous-alternative-for-the-hungry/#comments Fri, 27 May 2011 17:16:39 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=7423 Continue reading ]]>

Courtesy of: Jessica Gould

Bobby Jones spends most of his days reeling in river catfish from the Anacostia River.

Exactly how many people are fishing in the Anacostia River’s polluted water is not yet known, but Anacostia Watershed Society advocacy director Brent Bolin tells us that he’s seen a large increase in the number of fishermen since the recession began.

WAMU’s Jessica Gould reports that starting in June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be sponsoring a survey to find out who is fishing in the river and why.

Many of the fishermen Bolin sees have coolers used to store caught fish, which leads him to believe they are likely taking them home for food.

Gould spoke with one such fisherman, Bobby Jones.The District resident has been out of work for about five years, and Gould reports that catfish from the Anacostia constitute “a big part of his diet.”

But Anacostia Riverkeeper Dottie Yunger, who advocates for clean water, says eating catfish can be dangerous. She says studies show many of the brown bullheaded catfish in the Anacostia have contaminants in their tissues and cancerous lesions on their bodies.

“Will you get immediately sick from eating a fish from the river that might be contaminated? Probably not,” she says. “You may not feel any effect. But there are effects that are happening at the cellular level, at the molecular level. It’s affecting brain development, it’s affecting memory. It’s affecting cognitive skills.”

Despite the danger in eating the river’s fish, Bolin says fishing is quite common off of the Maryland and District shores of the Anacostia River.

“There are a few spots in which you almost always see someone out there. I think it’s pretty prevalent and it’s growing,” he says. “One of the problems is the warnings about how many fish you can eat. For one thing, they’re grossly out of date. And in D.C., you get the notice when you get your fishing license. Well, how many people do that? Especially someone with a language barrier?”

AWS conservation biologist Jorge Bogantes is helping to oversee the NOAA survey. He says they will also be looking into the racial and ethnic makeup of the fishers, their socioeconomic circumstances, how often they are fishing and why they are fishing.

Bogantes says many of the Spanish-speaking fishermen, for instance, are unaware of the no-fishing advisories. He recounts an experience he had while working an AWS booth at a Mount Pleasant street fair in which he handed out brochures about fish consumption advisories in the Anacostia River. Many of the Spanish-speakers he encountered that day “were interested in that because they had no clue that the fish contained those pollutants and that we had those issues here in the river,” he says. “A lot of them come from Northern and Central America, often from rural areas where they don’t have these kinds of advisories or they don’t even have the problem.”

Bogantes believes that fishing in the Anacostia is a recreational activity for some people, but not for everyone.

“In our preliminary experience, and from what I’ve seen, some people fish because [of] their socioeconomic level. The fish are a cheap source of protein,” he says. “… If it’s a source of protein, that’s of concern to us because this fish is known to have pollutants in its flesh.”

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D.C: One City? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/d-c-one-city/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/d-c-one-city/#comments Tue, 29 Mar 2011 19:18:55 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=5097 Continue reading ]]> D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray delivered his State of the District speech Monday night, and to the dismay of reporters assembled, there was little to no mention of recent scandals or specifics on upcoming budget decisions. But he did mention “One City.” Seven times.

Other notable mentions: comparing crossing the Anacostia River to entering a new continent, allusions to food deserts and boat metaphors. Read the full text here, but here’s an excerpt that may be of particular interest to our readers:

… The 2010 Census data we received last week had some good news: For the first time in 60 years, the population of our city has grown from one census to the next. Almost 20 thousand new residents have made D.C. their home in the last decade. And we now have more than 600 thousand residents! People are finding the District of Columbia an attractive place to live, and are moving back to our city – increasing our tax base and infusing our city with new vibrancy, life and creativity. But as we grow, we also need to be sure that our city is a place where those who have been here for many years continue to have the chance to live.

We have much to be proud of and much to look forward to. But yet, something feels curious about this litany of successes. We must consider a painfully obvious fact: the city that wins these accolades isn’t the same one that many of you wake up to each day.

The truth is that the growth in our city has been a miracle for some —and a mirage for others. For those left behind, the picture I have just painted of the city’s success is not a self-portrait, but something closer to a foreign landscape; you can gaze at it admiringly, but it doesn’t look anything like your neck of the woods.

The facts are troubling, but they bear acknowledging: there are parts of this city where over half of our high school students do not graduate. In some neighborhoods, one out of every three adults is unemployed. Of those who are working, one-fifth earn less than $11 per hour in wages. Twenty percent of our citizens live below the poverty line—a number that has actually gone up over the last few years, even though the city’s overall economic activity has increased.

At its widest, the Anacostia River spans barely half a mile —but when you pass over it, it can feel like you’ve left one continent for another. In a city that has been growing, the child poverty rate east of the river is double, yes, double!—the national average. In the healthiest city in America, the rate of HIV/AIDS infection east of the river is as severe as it is in Africa; it’s the highest rate of infection in the United States by a wide margin. In a city that has been ranked as the third-best location for chefs nationwide, we have a grand total of five sit-down restaurants east of the river – two in Ward 7 and three in Ward 8. That might not seem important, but it matters because with so few restaurants serving fresh food and with so few grocery stores where food can be purchased, families struggle each day to ensure their children eat nutritiously—and in some cases, just eat.

Let’s be clear: my intention is not to pit one part of the city against another. I don’t believe in that kind of division. I too am proud of our successes west of the river, and I know those triumphs encompass the hard work of many people in this room. But I do believe that too many of us have operated under the false assumption that a rising tide therefore would lift all boats…

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