Fishing is an important and widely enjoyed activity in Louisiana. We fish for sport and recreation, commercial enterprise, and for food. We have to be careful however about the types and amounts of fish we consume because some species accumulate toxins and pollutants at higher levels of concentration than others. A pollutant of frequent concern is mercury. Although mercury is a naturally occurring element, it enters water bodies at high levels through a variety of human activities. Coal-fired power plants, industrial processes, waste incineration, and improper disposal of products containing mercury are the main sources. While nearly all fish contain some levels of mercury, most are at levels that do not pose concern for human health. However, some species may accumulate mercury at higher levels and pose health risks to anyone, especially unborn babies and young children.
“A fish consumption advisory is a very conservative estimate of how much fish you can eat without any adverse health effects”
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) all consult on the safety of fish in Louisiana waters. The LDEQ and DHH issue fish advisories which include suggested consumption levels for pregnant women, young children, and the general population. Fish advisories should be posted at all water bodies of concern, but you should also check with state agencies as to the safety of consuming fish in specific rivers, lakes, and streams. Fish consumption advisories for Louisiana can be found on the LDEQ website here: http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/default.aspx?tabid=1631 You can also contact LDEQ by telephone at 225-219-3590 or DHH at 1-888-293-7020.
The Louisiana Citizens’ Guide To Environmental Engagement