Photo Essay

On the banks of destruction.

Ohio River Toxins

It's a fact, the Ohio River is the most polluted river in the United States. This is hard to believe since I've been fishing the mighty Ohio since my early childhood. As a kid, the Ohio River was literally in my backyard, and I thought it was the greatest river on earth. Unfortunately, several recent studies have made it clear that the Ohio River is decaying right before our eyes. Just last year, water advocacy group Environment America found that the Ohio River receives over 32 million pounds of toxic releases per year. That's far more than the 12.7 million pounds of toxic releases received by the Mississippi River each year. This combined with the recent influx of the invasive Asian carp species, has the Ohio River well on it's way to becoming the worst freshwater habitat for fish survival in America. The recent drilling for the new Ohio River bridges cant be good for local fishery either either.

Most fisher people I've met along the southern Indiana stretch of the Ohio River seem to be shocked by how quickly the Ohio River's fish habitat seems to be on the decline. Areas along the banks of the Falls of the Ohio State park in Clarksville, Indiana that were once filled with thousands of thriving shad minnows, are now empty. It's hard not to notice the staggering number of dead fish lying along the banks of the Ohio River. There seem to be so many dead fish along the banks of the Falls of the Ohio State park, that they blend in with the rocks...anyway, If you don't see the dead fish, you certainly will smell them.

There is no doubt that you can still have fun fishing the Ohio River, if you find a good enough spot. However, the reality is; many people fish the Ohio River for food, not just for fun. And if it is true that the Ohio River is as toxic as the reports say, eating fish from Ohio River is like playing Russian Roulette with your health.

It's time something is done to save not only the mighty Ohio River, but other dying rivers around the United States as well. It would be nice for once to see healthy fish swimming the banks of the Ohio River, and not just dead ones.

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—The JPG team