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Wyoming Department of Health
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 people 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. The advisory includes information specific to sensitive individuals, which include pregnant women, women of childbearing age and children, but the advisory also includes advice for others. It includes information on all waters in the state that have been tested for the presence of mercury and provides specific fish consumption recommendations for fish from those waters. The online advisory will be updated as new mercury 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 methyl mercury and some fish contain much more than others. Methyl mercury 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 methyl mercury, so it may take months or years of regularly eating fish to accumulate levels that could become a health concern. At high levels, mercury can adversely affect developing fetuses and the growing brains of children.

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 is produced by 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 methyl mercury by bacteria and other processes. Fish absorb methyl mercury into their tissues from their food and from water. There is no method of cooking or cleaning fish that will reduce the amount of mercury in a meal.

Meal advice

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, brown trout, lake trout, catfish and burbot, often accumulate more mercury because they eat other fish. Some commonly eaten fish low in mercury are Wyoming-caught rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon as well as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish from stores and restaurants.

Women who are pregnant, who might become pregnant, nursing mothers and children under 15 are at a higher risk of health impacts from ingesting too much methyl mercury. The guidelines below provide consumption advice for individuals in this sensitive category.

General Fish Consumption Advice for waters that are not listed below:

It is recommended that women of childbearing age and young children avoid those species of fish and seafood known to contain high concentrations of mercury. For women and young children, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently recommend against eating any shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, and also limiting consumption of albacore tuna to one meal per week.

Women and young children will receive the health benefits of eating fish without undue exposure to the harmful effects of mercury by eating up to 2 meals per week (A meal is 8 oz. of uncooked fish or 6 oz. of cooked fish) of a variety of fish and shell fish that are low in mercury. Some commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are Wyoming caught rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and kokanee and shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, Pollock and catfish from stores and restaurants. The 2 meals per week include fish from all sources, and should be the total of Wyoming caught fish and fish purchased at stores and restaurants.

The FDA and EPA have not issued general consumption guidelines for men and young people older than 15. The Wyoming Department of Health has provided consumption guidelines for all individuals for waters where sampling has been conducted to date. These specific consumption guidelines are more conservative for sensitive individuals and are provided below. If a water is not listed, sensitive individuals should refer to the General Fish Consumption Advice above.

For more information, call Dr. Tracy Murphy, State Epidemiologist at (307) 777-7172. Detailed sampling results are available upon request (307) 777-4600.

Waters That Have Been Tested

Specific consumption advisory for waters that have been tested are provided below. Select a water from the list or select the bottom option for a report on all waters.

For more information, call Dr. Tracy Murphy, State Epidemiologist at (307) 777-7172. Detailed sampling results are available upon request (307) 777-4600.


Wyoming Game & Fish Department Headquarters
5400 Bishop Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82006
ph: (307) 777-4600
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