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Fish Consumption Advice for Alaskans

Current data from Alaska’s Fish Monitoring Program demonstrate that Alaska fish have levels of POPs that are well below a level of health concern for consumers.

Recommendations Due to the numerous well-documented health (and cultural) benefits of fish consumption, teenage boys, adult men, and women who cannot become pregnant should continue unrestricted consumption of all fish from Alaska waters. Women who are or can become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children aged 12 years and under should continue unrestricted consumption of fish from Alaska waters that are low in mercury, which include all five species of Alaska salmon, pacific cod, walleye pollock, black rockfish, pacific ocean perch, halibut under 20 pounds, and lingcod <30 inches.

To protect the nervous systems of developing fetuses and young children, women who are or can become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children aged 12 years and under should limit their consumption of the fish that are known to have elevated mercury levels according to the following categories:

Category 1: limit consumption of sablefish, rougheye rockfish, medium-sized halibut (20–39.9 pounds),

store-bought halibut, and medium-sized lingcod (30 to 39.9 length) to per month);

4 meals per week (or 16 meals

Category 2: limit consumption of medium-large halibut (40 to 49.9 pounds) to 3 meals per week (or

12 meals per month); Category 3: limit consumption of large lingcod (40–44.9 length), yelloweye rockfish, and large halibut (50–89.9 pounds) to 2 meals per week (or 8 meals per month); and Category 4: limit consumption of salmon shark, spiny dogfish, very large lingcod (45 and longer) and very large halibut ( 90 pounds) to 1 meal per week (or 4meals per month).

The fish consumption limitations listed above assume a person eats fish from a single category listed above, and that an adult meal size is 6 ounces. For those who eat multiple fish species, a tool to calculate mixed diet allowances is available at: www.epi.alaska.gov/eh/fish/. Women who are or can become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children aged 12 years and under who consume fish from the categories listed above during a given month may also consume unlimited quantities of fish known to be low in mercury (e.g., salmon) during that month.

Since the average commercially-caught halibut in Alaska weighs only 33 pounds, women who are or can become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children aged 12 years and under may eat up to sixteen meals per month of halibut from Alaska that are sold in stores and restaurants.

Recommendations and guidance on fish consumption will change as new data become available.

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