Harmful algae is plaguing Oneida Lake worse than in the past.
“Usually if we have a very wet year it will bring more nutrients to the lake and that will fuel bigger algae blooms then in a year when we don’t have that much water running in,” says Cornell University Senior Research Associate Randy Jackson.
When an area is taken over by the algae blooms, often times no oxygen is left for the fish.
“We’ve seen a lot of smaller fish and crayfish and even leeches just trying to climb out on the lily pads and stuff, probably just trying to get oxygen,” Ken Barber adds.
Barber lives on Billington Bay, one of the murkiest and most heavily impacted locations on Oneida Lake. So, fishers are wondering if it is safe to cast a line.
Researchers at Cornell University say no.
“There may be localized depletions when the algae decays but for the most part it doesn’t impact water quality enough to have an impact on the fish populations,” said Jackson.
But neighbors on the lake are on edge.
One neighbor, Robert Goffredo, says, “That’s my fear right now, is that people aren’t going to fish in August and, frankly, I don’t blame them.”
While the blooms may not be enough to impact fish populations, they could start to impact business. “In the overall picture, if it starts to kill off fish and the fishing becomes tough, they’ll simply go elsewhere,” Goffredo adds.
Some good news to add. If you are fishing on Oneida Lake, Cornell researchers say the fish are safe to eat.