Fish Consumption Advice for Alaskans
Mercury Levels in Alaska Fish Data originally provided by ADEC in June 2006 included samples from 2,215 fish representing 23 different species caught in Alaska waters. The data were subsequently updated several times, such that a total of 2,305 fish were included in the final data set (Table 3). Three hundred thirty fish were collected at dockside from recreational fishermen, and 1,975 samples were collected from commercial fishermen or governmental fisheries biologists in areas where commercial harvest occurs. Each fish was analyzed separately for total mercury using a Direct Mercury Analyzer (Milestone Inc.). There were a relatively large number of samples of most species; however, there were fewer than 20 samples of several species, including dark/dusky rockfish, salmon shark, burbot, sheefish, lake trout, rainbow trout and grayling. For all fish species with fewer than 20 samples obtained, except for salmon shark, too few data existed upon which to base consumption advice at this time.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently conducting a systematic, multi-year study of mercury in northern pike from National Wildlife Refuges in western and interior Alaska. They are providing pike samples to ADEC to support their Fish Monitoring Program. The preliminary data obtained to date indicate substantial variability in mercury concentrations among watersheds for northern pike. It is therefore inappropriate to issue one statewide guideline for consumption of northern pike in Alaska. Region-specific guidelines will be provided when available.