Eating Fish is an important part of a health
Rich in vitamins and low in fat, fish contains protein we need for
strong bodies. It is also an excellent source of nutrition for proper growth
and development. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that you
eat two meals of fish or seafood every week
At the same time, most Florida seafood has low
to medium levels of mercury.
Depending on the age of the fish, the type of fish, and the condition of
the water the fish lives in, the levels of mercury found in fish are
Mercury is a toxic metal that can damage the
brains of children to cause learning and memory problems
Mercury can be natural in the environment or may occur due to pollution
from electronic power plant, mining, and other industrial sources. Another
industrial toxin found in fish, PCBs, is suspected to suppress the immune
Florida specific guidelines make eating choices
To lower the risk of harm from mercury found in fish caught in Florida,
guidelines based on tests of various freshwater, marine and estuarine water
bodies are presented in the tables available through links below. This
information should be used by everyone to determine the type and amount of
fish to eat or avoid.
Extra Guidelines for Women and Young Children
For most people, the risk of eating fish exposed to mercury is not a
health concern. However, developing fetuses and young children are more
sensitive to the harmful effects mercury has on the brain than other
people. As a result, women of childbearing age and young children should
eat less fish than all others to avoid the higher health risks.
Eating Fish from Commercial, Untested or
Some fish you eat may not have been caught from water bodies tested for
mercury. In cases where women of childbearing age and young children do not
know if the fish has been tested, or when it has been purchased from a store
or restaurant, they should:
Not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they
contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that
are lower in mercury. Commonly eaten seafood that are low in mercury
include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish, OR
Only eat one 6 ounce meal per month of largemouth bass, bowfin and
Eat up to 6 ounces of albacore tuna per week and a second meal of a
fish low in mercury, since albacore ("white tuna") has more mercury than
canned light tuna.
How Much Fish is Considered a Meal Portion?
In this brochure, a meal is 6 ounces of cooked fish.
How Would I Determine the Maximum Amount of
Fish to Eat Each Month?
Based on recommendations in the charts (see links below), the amount of
fish eaten from each water body should be added together to figure
the maximum amount of fish to eat monthly. Fish from commercial, untested
or unknown sources should also be included when figuring the total amount of
fish consumed each month.
Most freshwater fish caught in Florida can be eaten without harm. Bream
(such as bluegill, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish or spotted sunfish) and
marine fish such as mullet, snappers, pompano, flounder and dolphin are
generally low in mercury. Review the list of water bodies in this brochure
(see links below) to learn which fish can be consumed regularly and which
should be avoided.
Avoid Puffer or Suffer
Do not eat puffer fish caught in the Indian River Lagoon and from
water in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.
These include the southern puffer, northern puffer, marbled puffer, bandtail
puffer, checkered puffer and least puffer. Eating puffer fish (also
called blowfish) can cause saxitoxin poisoning which can lead to
neurological symptoms such as tingling, burning, numbness, drowsiness,
incoherent speech and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, the poisoning
can cause death. Cooking or cleaning the fish will not destroy the
toxin. This toxin also has no taste, color or smell. If you experience
any of the symptoms mentioned, contact your physician or visit the emergency
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
prohibits the harvesting of puffer fish from the Indian River Lagoon and all
other Florida waters of Brevard, Martin, Indian River, Volusia, and St.
Return to Fish Consumption Advisories