July 1, 2020
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
MORRILTON — A health advisory warning against swimming in and allowing pets and livestock to drink from Lake Overcup has been lifted, according to biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The harmful algae bloom advisory was issued in late May after tests in some portions of the lake showed high levels of cyanotoxins. Recent tests confirmed this toxin level has dissipated and the advisory has been lifted.
Matt Schroeder, fisheries management biologist for the AGFC, says the advisory may have confused some anglers who became concerned about any health effects of eating fish from Overcup.
“We saw a dramatic decrease in the number of anglers at the lake since the advisory was issued,” Schroeder said. “But even when a lake has a harmful algae bloom advisory, fishing and eating properly cooked fish from the lake is safe. The toxins are more of an issue for swimmers, paddlers and people’s pets and livestock that may drink from the water directly.”
Schroeder explained that cyanobacteria, which causes the toxin during seasonal blooms in some fisheries, is a natural component in nearly all lakes and rarely causes any issues unless the right conditions are met.
“We just want to make sure the public is informed of the toxin and know how to enjoy the lake without avoiding fishing altogether,” Schroeder said. “In the future, anglers likely will see more of these harmful algae bloom advisories from the AGFC on the lakes we own, as they are very fertile waters. We just need to keep people informed about any temporary issues as they happen. If you avoid swimming, prolonged exposure to the water itself and don’t allow pets or livestock to drink the water or eat raw parts of fish from the water during these advisories, the risk of having any problems from cyanotoxins is extremely small.”