Updated Fish Advisory Offers Safe-Eating Advice

An updated fish advisory issued this month for the Central and South Delta in Contra Costa, Sacramento, and San Joaquin counties provides safe-eating advice for American Shad, black bass species, bullhead species, catfish species, Common Carp, crappie species, Goldfish, Sacramento Sucker, small baitfish species, Steelhead Trout, Striped Bass, sunfish species, and White Sturgeon.

The advisory covers all water bodies in the central and southern portions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta south of Highway 12, except the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River south of Stockton. The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) updated the recommendations based on the levels of mercury.

“Many fish have nutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease and are excellent sources of protein,” said OEHHA Director Dr. Lauren Zeise. “By following our guidelines for fish caught in the Central and South Delta, people can safely eat fish low in chemical contaminants and enjoy the well-known health benefits of fish consumption.”
The following advice is issued for consuming fish from the Central and South Delta:

• Women ages 18 – 49 and children ages 1 – 17 should not eat Striped Bass or White Sturgeon. They may safely eat a maximum of seven total servings per week of small baitfish species; or three total servings per week of bullhead species; or two total servings per week of American Shad, Steelhead Trout, or sunfish species; or one total serving per week of black bass species, catfish species, Common Carp, crappie species, Goldfish, or Sacramento Sucker.

• Women ages 50 and older and men ages 18 and older may safely eat a maximum of seven total servings per week of American Shad, bullhead species, small baitfish species, or sunfish species; or five total servings per week of Steelhead Trout; or three total servings per week of catfish species, Common Carp, crappie species, or Goldfish; or two total servings per week of black bass species or Sacramento Sucker; or one total serving per week of Striped Bass or White Sturgeon.

• No one should eat any fish or shellfish from the Port of Stockton.

One serving is an eight-ounce fish fillet, measured prior to cooking, which is roughly the size and thickness of your hand. Children should eat smaller servings. For small fish species, several individual fish may make up a single serving.

Posters with the safe-eating advice for the Central and South Delta are available on OEHHA’s website in English and additional languages. Updated advice for fish that migrate in California rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters and that may be found in the Central and South Delta (American Shad, Steelhead Trout, Striped Bass, and White Sturgeon) is also included on the posters.

Mercury is released into the environment from mining and burning coal. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing children and fetuses. The OEHHA provides a separate set of recommendations specifically for children up to age 17 and women of childbearing age (18-49 years).

OEHHA’s fish advisory recommendations are based on levels of contaminants, such as mercury, that persist in the environment and accumulate in fish. They are independent of any advisories to limit fish intake due to freshwater or harmful estuarine algal blooms (HABs). Before fishing, check the California HABs Portal to see if there are recommended HAB advisories and always practice healthy water habits.

Eating fish in amounts slightly greater than the advisory’s recommendations is not likely to cause health problems if it is done occasionally, such as eating fish caught during an annual vacation.

The Central and South Delta advisory is one of over 130 OEHHA advisories that provide site-specific, health-based fish consumption advice for many of the places where people catch and eat fish in California, including lakes, rivers, bays, reservoirs, and the california coast. Advisories are available on OEHHA’s Fish Advisories webpage.

OEHHA’s mission is to protect and enhance the health of Californians and the environment through scientific evaluations that inform, support, regulatory guide and other actions in the state.