In 1991, Presque Isle Bay listed as the 43rd and final Area of Concern (AOC). AOCs are areas within the Great Lakes that have experienced environmental degradation. Presque Isle Bay is a 3,655 acre embayment located in northwestern Pennsylvania on the southern shore of Lake Erie. In 1993, fish tumors and contaminated sediment were identified as the key contributors to the impairment of the bay. In 1998, Pennsylvania Sea Grant began working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and several collaborators to address the tumors and contaminated sediments. Through the years, Pennsylvania Sea Grant has become a leader in addressing issues related to fish tumors and sediment contamination. Our efforts have included facilitating workshops to standardize criteria for assessing the impairments, developing guidance documents for assessing the impairments, and supporting and conducting research to better understand the impairments. In 2013, based on the efforts of Pennsylvania Sea Grant, DEP, and our collaborators, Presque Isle Bay was removed from the list of Great Lakes AOCs.
Today, our staff continue to address the fish tumors and contaminated sediment impairments. In August 2015, our staff facilitated an effort to collect sediment samples from Presque Isle Bay in accordance with the long-term monitoring plan for the bay. The samples are currently being analyzed for a suite of contaminants, including PAHs, PCBs, metals, and pesticides. Since 2012, our staff have has been assessing liver, skin, and gonadal tumors rates in several species of fish collected from Presque Isle Bay and Long Point Bay, Ontario, Canada. These data will help us better understand if tumors in brown bullhead are indicative of a greater impact to the bay’s fish community and identify additional indicators and species that can be used to assess the ecological integrity of the bay.