Eat Fish, Choose Wisely

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Now that warmer weather is here, Utah Public Health officials want to remind Utah anglers that while eating fish is an important part of a healthy diet, you’ll want to choose wisely in deciding which fresh fish you consume. There are current fish consumption advisories still in effect for Utah. Since 2000, fish in 261 bodies of water in Utah have been tested for mercury. That includes 192 streams and rivers and 69 lakes and reservoirs.

An 8-ounce serving is equivalent to the size of two decks of playing cards. According to an analysis completed by the Utah Department of Health, eating more than that amount over a long period of time could result in an intake of mercury that exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health recommendations.


Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be transformed into methylmercury, a more toxic form found in some waters. Those most vulnerable to the effects of mercury toxicity include women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children under 14. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant and nursing mothers can expose their babies to mercury. Continued exposure to low concentrations of methylmercury in fish may have neurological effects on those most vulnerable.

Still, the American Heart Association recommends individuals eat two fish or seafood meals per week.. Known health risks are not associated with eating fish occasionally. There is no health risk associated with mercury for recreational uses of the reservoirs, streams, rivers, or creeks, such as swimming, boating and waterskiing.

Not all Utah water bodies have been tested and further testing may result in additional advisories. Utah fish consumption advisories are issued in partnership between the Utah Department of Health, Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the Utah Department of Natural Resources.