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Californians need to know if the fish they catch are safe to eat, so the state keeps spending money on testing fish for mercury.
Cal EPA recently awarded another grant to Humboldt Baykeeper to continue its mercury testing program, this time on some species of fish that were not the focus of previous testing.
Those earlier tests revealed that not all the fish on the North Coast are safe to eat all the time.
Jennifer Kalt is Humboldt Baykeeper's director and our guest.
The California Environmental Protection Agency awarded Humboldt Baykeeper, a program of the environmental conservation nonprofit Northcoast Environmental Center, $40,365 on June 26 to test Pacific lamprey, lingcod, rockfish and other fish species for mercury.
“The idea here is to get some more local information so people can base what they’re feeding themselves and their children in particular on local data instead of general data from other parts of the state,” said Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper.
A previous grant from the state EPA allowed Humboldt Baykeeper to assess the mercury content in coastal fish and shellfish and put out guidelines, which are available in English, Spanish and Hmong, regarding which ones are safest to eat.
“From that study, we had a lot of good news and bad news,” Kalt said. “Chinook Salmon are very low in mercury, so you can eat those up to 28 times per month. That’s good for tribal members because that amount is consistent with the amounts of fish they might eat.”
UPDATED! Humboldt Baykeeper has been testing mercury levels in local fish since July 2016 with funding from the California Environmental Protection Agency. We’ve found that most local fish are safe to eat in moderation—with a few exceptions.
Click HERE for the revised 2021 guidelines on Eating Fish Safely.
Comiendo Pescado Con Seguridad Pautas - Revisado 2021
Click HERE for the 2021 report on mercury in fish caught in nearshore ocean waters.
Click HERE for the 2018 Report on fish and shellfish from Humboldt Bay.
In October, the State of California issued an official fish advisory for Humboldt Bay using data from Humboldt Baykeeper's recent study of mercury in fish and shellfish. The advisory addresses eight species of fish, some of which are safe to eat up to seven times a week.
Only leopard shark is listed as unsafe to consume in any amount.