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Protect Your Family from Mercury in Seafood

How can you protect your family from mercury in seafood?

In March 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the following advice for women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers and young children:

  1. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
    • Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.
    • Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna, has more mercury than canned light tuna. When choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
  3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.

 

Why do mercury levels in seafood differ?

Mercury builds up in wildlife through a process called bioaccumulation. At each level on the food chain, mercury concentrations are slightly higher than the level below. Many of the fish we eat are close to the top of the marine food chain.

Low-mercury, sustainable seafood options include:

  • farmed clams, mussels and oysters
  • atlantic, chub or jack mackerel
  • US-farmed tilapia
  • wild Alaska salmon
  • farmed Arctic char (Canada, Iceland, US)
  • farmed striped bass
  • pole and troll-caught mahi mahi
  • sablefish (black cod)
  • squid
  • dungeness, king and stone Crabs
  • US-farmed catfish
  • US-farmed shrimp
  • Pacific cod