Fish Consumption Advice

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Wyoming’s Fish Consumption Advisory

The Wyoming Department of Health, in cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, provides the following information to allow parents and women to make informed decisions about how to include fish in a healthy diet. The Fish Consumption Advisory provides recommendations on the amount and type of fish to consume to recognize the health benefits of eating fish, while limiting consumption of mercury to safe levels. Consistent with guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this advisory is limited to information specific to sensitive individuals. This includes those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children under 12 years of age. This advice can help people make informed choices about the types of fish that are nutritious and safe to eat. The EPA and FDA have not issued general consumption guidelines for men and young people older than age 12.

This advice is based on sampling from waters throughout the state where fish tissue has been tested for the presence of mercury. This advice will be updated as new testing results become available.

What are the Health Benefits and Risks of Eating Fish?

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children’s proper growth and development. Thus, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits.

Unfortunately, fish also contain methylmercury and some fish contain much more than others. Methylmercury can build up in body tissue over time and consuming too much of it can pose human health risks. Our bodies can safely metabolize small amounts of consumed methylmercury, so it may take months or years of regularly eating fish to accumulate levels that would become a health concern. At high levels, mercury can adversely affect developing fetuses and the growing brains of children, which is why consumption advice is specific to sensitive individuals.

Where Does Mercury Come From?

Mercury is a widespread and naturally occurring element and some soil and geologic formations naturally have higher levels of mercury. Most mercury pollution occurs as atmospheric deposition related to energy consumption and production, and industrial processes. Mercury may also enter Wyoming waters via household refuse, batteries, mining, and industrial wastes. Once in a lake, mercury is converted to methylmercury by bacteria and other processes. Fish absorb methylmercury into their tissues from their food and from water. Mercury levels increase as fish get larger and older. So, as a general rule, keep smaller Wyoming-caught fish for eating. Predatory fish, such as Walleye, Burbot, and large trout often accumulate more mercury because they eat other fish. There is no method of cooking or cleaning fish that will reduce the amount of mercury in a meal.

Fish Consumption Advice

While it is important to limit mercury in the diets of those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children under 12 years of age because of its potential effect on developing brains, many types of fish are both nutritious and low in mercury.
  • Eat 2 to 3 servings of fish a week from the “Best Choices” list OR 1 serving from the “Good Choices” list.
  • Serve children 2 servings of fish a week from the “Best Choices” list.
What is a serving?
  • For an adult, 1 serving = 4 ounces (or about the size of a deck of cards)
  • For children, 1 serving
    • = 1 ounce at ages 1–3
    • = 2 ounces at ages 4–7
    • = 3 ounces at ages 8–10
    • = 4 ounces at age 11+

Wyoming-caught fish


Supermarket and restaurant fish


The EPA and FDA have not issued general consumption guidelines for men and young people older than age 12.
For more information specific to store-bought fish or fish purchased in a restaurant, please view the EPA-FDA Advice about Eating Fish and Shellfish at:
For more information, please contact Dr. Alexia Harrist, State Epidemiologist at (307) 777-7172. Detailed sampling results are available upon request at (307) 777-4600.

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