Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (July 2, 2007) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has updated consumption guidelines for fish from Maryland waters based on new information about levels of pollutants in fish from previously unmonitored locations. These guidelines provide recreational fishermen and their families with the recommended maximum number of meals of different types of fish that should be eaten each year based on the level of contaminants that are found in Maryland fish.

“Fish serve as a beneficial and important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. The Department recommends that Maryland families continue to safely include recreationally-caught fish in their diets by following basic precautions and paying attention to fish consumption guidelines established to protect public health,” said Phil Heard, M.D. of MDE’s Science Services Administration. “As always, MDE recommends avoiding consumption of fish or shellfish that have lesions, sores or other visible problems, or has a bad odor or taste following preparation.”

The new guidelines reflect analysis of new data, not new sources of contamination. The following have been added to MDE’s fish consumption advisories:

  • Channel Catfish from the Monocacy River
  • Common Carp and Sunfish from the Middle Potomac River (from the Washington, D.C. line to the Maryland 301 bridge)
  • Herring Bay, Severn River, and South River for White Perch
  • Severn River for Yellow Perch, and
  • Small and Largemouth Bass in more than 30 Maryland lakes and reservoirs.

The contaminants causing the consumption advisories are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and mercury (the risk factor for the lakes and reservoirs). Mercury and PCB accumulate in fish and are harmful to human health, particularly for pregnant women and young children. PCB is generally considered as the most common contaminant in fish throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

MDE provides tips on ways to reduce exposure to contaminants, like eating smaller fish and spacing meals of specified fish over time. Fish is a great source of high quality protein, low in fat, and has many essential vitamins and minerals. The public is urged to use the guidelines as a tool to maintain a healthy diet.

To view the complete list of fish consumption guidelines and other useful information including tips on fish preparation, visit MDE’s website: or call MDE at (410) 537-3906.

MDE continues to distribute its color-coded “Fish Facts” guide to consumption of fish and shellfish for women and children. The guide, co-sponsored by the state’s Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, includes Maryland fish and shellfish, and commercial seafood from stores and restaurants, and distinguishes among fish that are safe to eat (eight meals per month), fish from areas safe when eaten in moderation (up to four meals a month), fish from areas where consumption should be limited (one serving each month), and areas where fish should not be eaten. The guides are available upon request in English or Spanish, or can be downloaded from the MDE website.