In time for spring 2018, the Maryland Department of the Environment has developed an interactive map that provides modernized, user-friendly information on fish consumption advisories. A consumption advisory is a recommendation to limit or avoid eating certain species of fish caught from specific water bodies due to environmental factors.
The map, which can be opened on web browsers, allows anglers to see what advisories are in effect in specific waterways. The map is optimized for mobile devices, with a widget that allows users to zoom to their exact location on the map with the press of a button. It is one of the only “clickable” maps for fish consumption advisories in the nation.
Click here to access the map.
Fish Consumption Guidelines for Women and Children: Brochure
English (pdf, 284 KB)
En Español (pdf, 283 KB)
Anacostia River Fish Consumption Guidelines for Women and Children
English (pdf, 284 KB)
En Español (pdf, 757 KB)
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is responsible for monitoring and evaluating contaminant levels in fish, shellfish and crabs in Maryland waters. The tissues of interest for human health include the edible portions of fish (fillet), crab (crabmeat and "mustard"), and shellfish ("meats"). Such monitoring enables MDE to determine whether the specific contaminant levels in these species are within safe limits for human consumption. Results of such studies are used to issue consumption guidelines for recreationally caught fish, shellfish, and crab species in Maryland (see our most recent guidelines). Currently there are no contaminant advisories for oysters and clams (shellfish).
Fish and shellfish can be an important part of healthy diet. They are a good source of high-quality protein and nutrients and are low in saturated fat. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to a child’s proper growth and development. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends that adults eat fish at least twice a week for a healthier heart.
Many fish, including the most popular store-bought fish and shellfish, are safe to eat. Some, however, contain chemicals (such as methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and various types of pesticides) that may harm children and adults. The Maryland Department of the Environment monitors and evaluates contamination levels in fish, shellfish, and crabs throughout Maryland and issues guidelines for recreationally caught fish (see our most recent guidelines). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues nationwide guidance for commercial fish (fish bought in stores and restaurants). In March 2004, the FDA together with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the following national guidelines for women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children:
DO NOT EAT Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than light canned tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
Check local guidelines about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.
Find Out How To Protect Your Health While Eating Fish
FDA Information on Fresh and Frozen Seafood
U.S. EPA Fish Consumption Website
Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (U.S. EPA/FDA)
The Maryland Department of the Environment has monitored chemical contaminant levels in Maryland’s fish since the early 1970s.
Maryland routinely monitors across the state on a 5-year cycle. When routine monitoring indicates potential hazards to the public and environment, additional monitoring of the affected area may be conducted to verify the initial findings and identify the appropriate species and size classes associated with harmful contaminant levels. Findings from such studies are the basis for the fish consumption guidelines (see our most recent guidelines).
The types of fish sampled include important predatory game species (such as small mouth bass and striped bass), common recreational panfish species (white perch, bluegill, crappie) as well as, bottom dwelling, accumulator species with relatively high fat content (such as carp, catfish and American eel). Also, periodically MDE conducts intensive surveys of contaminant levels in selected species in specific water bodies. Past targets of intensive surveys conducted in Patapsco River/Baltimore Harbor included: white perch, channel catfish, eel, and striped bass.
Chesapeake Bay Regional Fish Consumption Advisories (Chesapeake Bay Program)
National Listing of Fish Advisories (EPA)
Fishing Information (Maryland DNR)
Maryland Biological Stream Survey (Maryland DNR)
Risk-Based Screening of Metals in Maryland Finfish Tissue, 1985-1997 (MDE)
Fish Kills in Maryland (MDE)
Mercury Information (MDE)
Toxicological Profile for Mercury (ATSDR)
Fish Tissue Criterion for Methylmercury (EPA)
Maryland Department of the Environment410-537-3818
U.S. Food and Drug Administration1-888-SAFEFOOD
Maryland Local Health Department Contact Information:Click here
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230