Fish Consumption Advice
To enjoy the benefits of eating fish while minimizing exposure to mercury, you should:
- eat mainly types of fish low in mercury, and
- limit your consumption of types of fish with typically higher levels of mercury.
Fish are important in a healthy diet. They are a lean, low-calorie source of protein. However, some fish may contain methylmercury or other harmful chemicals at sufficiently high levels to be a concern.
Federal, state and local governments issue fish consumption advisories when fish are unsafe to eat. The advisories may suggest that people avoid eating certain kinds or certain amounts of fish. Some advisories apply to specific water types (like specific lakes). Some may focus on groups of particularly sensitive people (e.g., women of childbearing age). Some advisories include notices of "no restriction" to tell us that certain fish are safe to eat. As states increase the waters they monitor for contaminated fish, both the number of advisories and the waters where it is safe to eat fish are increasing.
The degree of exposure to mercury is derived from both the amount and the type of fish eaten. The key factor to an individual's health is related to the amount and type of fish the individual consumes. If you are concerned for your health or your family's as a result of exposure to mercury, get in touch with your health care provider. They will be able to tell you if mercury exposure is a problem for you and what to do about it.
- EPA information:
- June 2014 - EPA and FDA Advice about Eating Fish: Availability of Draft Update. EPA and FDA have released for review and comment an update to the 2004 advice contained in their jointly released document entitled “What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish.” The proposed update makes the advice consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. The update also contains additional information for those who want to understand the advice in greater detail.
- 2004 EPA-FDA Joint Federal Advisory for Mercury in Fish: “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish” | PDF version (2 pp., 234K, About PDF) -- advice for women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the parents of young children.
- Fish Consumption Advisories website - general information on fish advisories, public information materials, technical guidance
- National Listing of Fish Advisories Where You Live Map - a state-by-state map that provides links to state, tribal and territorial fish advisory programs.
- Search by waterbody, advisory type, fish species or pollutant for fish advisories and fish tissue contaminant data
- View a list of state-by-state list of fish advisory contacts and websites