Mercury: fish consumption advisories
Canada is renowned for its pristine lakes and rivers, attracting recreational and subsistence fishers who enjoy and consume the diverse fish species they catch. There is growing concern, however, that certain fish species in some of Canada's freshwater bodies have acquired elevated mercury levels. Mercury released from human activities can be converted in the environment to a highly toxic form called methylmercury, which can bioaccumulate and biomagnify in fish tissue, particularly in predatory species like pike, walleye and bass. The consumption of mercury contaminated fish is one of the main pathways for mercury exposure in humans, and may pose serious health risks, particularly for young children and the developing fetus.
In addition to creating regulatory tools to reduce mercury releases to the environment, federal, provincial and territorial governments have placed fish consumption advisories on individual species, lakes and in some cases on entire regions, in order to prevent high levels of mercury exposure to consumers. The links below provide information on some fish consumption advisories that are available electronically. People who catch and consume fish as a staple part of their diet should consult local fishing and health authorities to obtain information about local advisories.
Examining Fish Consumption Advisories Related to Mercury Contamination in Canada (2001) outlines federal, provincial, and territorial roles, responsibilities and procedures related to fish consumption advisory development across Canada. This document is not intended to serve as a reference guide for these advisories because they can change over time. The links below provide up to date information on current advisories in various regions across Canada and/or contacts for the responsible agencies.
Other Canadian Fish Advisories
Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Food Safety Facts on Mercury and Fish Consumption
Health Canada - Human Health Risk Assessment of Mercury in Fish and Health Benefits of Fish Consumption
Parks Canada advisory information on mercury levels in fish in the Mountain National Parks in Alberta and British Columbia
Related Canadian Sites
Links to Related Provincial and Territorial Government Sites
Other North American Fish Advisories
EPA Fish and Wildlife Advisories
Great Lakes Fish Consumption Advisories provided by the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN)
Nearshore Waters of the Great Lakes Section 8.4 Fish Consumption Advisories
U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish
U.S. Food and Drug Administration - What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
Fish consumption advisories have been published on the 2010 Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations webpage. Advisories for mercury are located in the "Helpful Information" section under "Mercury Contamination."
For more detailed information, please contact Alberta Health and Wellness at 780-427-1470.
The B.C. Ministry of Water, Land, and Air Protection published provincial fish advisories in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis 2009-2011 . The advisories are located in the "Special Restrictions/Notes" column within the regional water-specific tables.
For additional information visit the Fish and Wlidlife Branch website or contact by phone at (250-387-9711.
Manitoba Conservation has a website about Mercury in Fish , where you will find a pamphlet on " Mercury in Fish and Guidelines for the Consumption of Recreationally Angled Fish in Manitoba" .
For further information on recommended consumption rates, contact a Manitoba Water Stewardship Office or phone the Resource Information Service at 204-945-6784.
The Fish and Wildife Branch of New Brunswick's Department of Natural Resources and Energy published provincial fish advisories in the manual Fish 2010. Mercury Contamination of Freshwater Fish is located under For Further Information on page 43.
For additional inquiries, contact the fish and wildlife general information line at 506-453-2440.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Various provincial fish consumption advisories have been issued for water bodies in Newfoundland and Labrador. At the following locations it is recommended that the designated fish species be consumed no more than once per week:
|Cat Arm Reservoir||Arctic charr|
|Long Pond Reservoir||Ouananiche|
|Great Burnt Reservoir||Ouananiche|
|Cold Spring Pond||Ouananiche and brook trout|
|Smallwood Reservoir||Lake trout and northern pike|
|Lobstick Forebay||Lake trout and northern pike|
|Churchill River 1||Lake trout and northern pike|
1 (between tailrace and outflow of lake Winokapau)
A consumption advisory has been issued for brook trout coming from the Rose Blanche reservoir. Women of childbearing age should limit their consumption of brook trout from Rose Blanche to one 10 ounce serving per week. For children aged 5-11 years, the serving should be 4.7 ounces and for children aged 1-4 years, the serving should be 2.5 ounces. The advisory does not apply to all other adults.
There is also a consumption advisory for certain species from Star Lake. The following table provides the recommended maximum amount of fish that can be safely consumed per week.
|Individual||Advisory (ounces / week)|
|Arctic charr||Brook trout|
|Women (child-bearing age)||
For additional fishing and wildlife information in Newfoundland and Labrador visit the province's Environment and Conservation webpage or contact the Department of Fishery and Oceans at 709-772-4423.
Northwest Territories - Public Health Advisory - Fish from Giauque and Thistlewaite Lakes unsafe to eat
Basic fishing guidelines may be found in the 2010-2011 Sport Fishing Regulations Guide.
For further information about fish advisories in the Northwest Territories, visit the Wildlife Division or contact the Department of Health and Social Services at 867-920-8646.
The Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture published their fish advisories in the Angler's Handbook and 2010 Summary of Regulations. The provincial mercury advisory appears on page 31.
For more information call the Department of Environment and labour at 902-424-2553.
There are currently no territorial fish advisories in Nunavut.
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment published provincial fish consumption advisories in the 2009-2010 Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish. Notices for mercury and other contaminants are located on page 16 of the guide.
Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Sport Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program at 1-800-820-2716.
Prince Edward Island
A fish consumption advisory has been issued for the O'Keefe Lake in Avondale. The mercury concentration measured in some of the trout in this lake exceeds the national guideline level of 0.5ppm. The PEI Department of Health and Social Services is advising the public that pregnant women and children under the age of 8 should avoid eating trout from O'Keefe Lake. Fish from other lakes, ponds or brooks on PEI have not been found to have mercury above the national guidelines.
For more information visit the Recreational Fishing information page, where you will find the 2010 Angling Summary Report.
Quebec's Ministère de l'environnement publishes provincial fish advisories on their website: Guide de consommation du poisson de pêche sportive en eau douce. (Available in French only)
For fish consumption guidelines, please contact your regional Saskatchewan Environment office. A directory of regional offices has been published along with a summary of fishing regulations in The Angler's Guide, available at the Saskatchewan Fishing Programs and Services Page. See "Fish Advisory Notices" for guidelines for eating fish and mercury levels on the main page. The general inquiry line can also be reached at 1-800-567-4224.
The Yukon's Ministry of Environment along with the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans published the Regulations Summary 2010-2011 for Yukon Fishing. Fish consumption advisories are located on page 40 under the "Fresh Water Fish of the Yukon" section.
Additional information can be requested by contacting the Yukon ministry at 867-667-5652.
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