Mercury in fish on Columbia River has led to increased warnings for residents

The Washington State Department of Health recently added the 150-mile stretch of the Columbia River from McNary Dam to the I-90 bridge near Vantage to its list of waterways with fish consumption advisories, and reminds residents to check advisories before consuming any fish caught in the wild.

After testing levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls – commonly known as PCBs –in six fish species found in that section of the Columbia River, DOH recommends the following meal limits:

  • DO NOT EAT: Northern pikeminnow
  • 1 meal per month: Carp, mountain whitefish, white sturgeon
  • 2 meals per month: Bridgelip sucker, largemouth bass, walleye
  • 4 meals per month: Smallmouth bass
  • Healthy choices: Lamprey, salmon, shad and steelhead

There is also currently a statewide Mercury Advisory.

DOH says not to eat Northern Pikeminnow at all, and to limit eating Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass to no more than 2 meals per month.

In our region, advisories in the Olympic National Park include fish in Lake Ozette contaminated with Mercury. They say that women who are or may become pregnant, women who are nursing, and any children should limit Yellow Perch and Bullhead Catfish to one serving per week, and to avoid Largemouth Bass or Northern Pikeminnow from the waters.

They also say that these same women and children should limit Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout caught on mountain lakes to one serving per week and limit Rainbow Trout to 2-3 servings per week.

DOH recommends eating at least two seafood meals per week as part of a heart healthy diet.

To reduce your exposure to contaminants in fish, eat a variety of fish from a variety of sources.

Before you fish, check for advisories at or call 1-877-485-7316.



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