Fish Exchange

Although consumption of fish from the Lower Passaic River has been banned since the mid-1980s, there are still some individuals who catch fish from the River for food. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified fish consumption as the main human health risk associated with contaminated sediment in the River.

While the concept of a fish exchange has been explored within many watersheds, such as the San Francisco Bay and the Lower Duwamish in Washington State, this fish exchange in the Lower Passaic is the first of its kind in the nation.

This program is not only immediately reducing human health risk but is also educating fishermen on the risks of eating contaminated fish caught in the River.

The fish exchange program commenced in June and ended in October 2015 at the close of the fishing season. Since June 2015, the veteran trainees have educated more than 240 community members and have prevented more than 150 fish from being eaten by fishermen and their families.

Fishing Trends Study/ScDo Not Catch! Do Not Eat!outing for River Fishermen

The Lower Passaic River Study Area Cooperating Parties Group (CPG) conducted a fishing survey of the Lower Passaic in 2011-2012. This survey helped identify the fishing habits and fish consumption of anglers who were catching and eating fish from the River despite the consumption ban.

In 2014 and 2015, VETS trainees conducted numerous surveys and scouting trips along the Lower Passaic River to identify fishermen along the River. Over multiple days and time periods, trainees identified and interviewed fishermen at locations along the full 17 miles of the Lower Passaic River known to have a fishering population, including the Nutley Boat Ramp, Kearny Boat Ramp and Newark’s Riverbank Park.

Many of the fishermen responded that they typically take their Passaic River catches home and feed it to their families. All of the consuming fishermen encountered were interested in participating in the fish exchange.


Rutgers NJAES: The Feasibility of a Fish Exchange for the Protection of Human Health in Newark, NJ (PDF – 11.1 MB)




Click on the links below for more information about the Fish Exchange Program and how you can exchange your catch.

Fish Exchange Brochure FINAL (PDF – 1.02 MB)

Fish Exchange One Pager_FIN_March 2016 (PDF – 0.4 MB)