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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Division of Fish & Wildlife : Fisheries

FIsh Consumption Advisories


Cutting Out The Risks

  • Avoid eating fish from the waters listed in the "Fish Smart, Eat Smart" consumption chart alongside.
  • Eat smaller fish of a species as long as it is of legal length.
  • Eat smaller portions of fish and eat fewer meals of fish.
  • Women of child bearing age and children may want to avoid eating any species of fish suspected to be a problem. Click here for the latest information from the Enviromental Protection Agency.
  • Dress and cook the fish in a manner that reduces contaminants.

Cutting out the risks 1

Toxic chemicals tend to concentrate in
the fatty tissue, shown in black above and
found in the:
1) Dorsal Area
2) Lateral Line
3) Belly Flaps
When cleaning fish, always skin it
and trim away fatty areas as shown below:

Cutting out the risks 2

Source: Michigan Department of Public Health
Reprinted: Permission of Soundings Publication Inc.

Fishing is an important activity in Delaware's inland and coastal waters. Among the benefits provided by fishing are quality recreational opportunities, direct and indirect input to the local economy, food for recreational anglers and food for the commercial marketplace.
Fish are a good source of readily digestible protein, they are low in fat and sodium, and the unique type of fats found in fish are believed to provide cardiovascular benefits.

Despite the general benefits of fishing and fish consumption, there has been a growing concern regarding the presence of chemical toxins in the flesh of finfish and shellfish taken from Delaware waters and the associated health risk to anglers and their families who consume their catch.

The existence of chemicals in the edible portion of some fish has resulted in the public advisories. These advisories are as a result of joint action taken by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Department of Health and Social Service's Division of Public Health. The advisories were deemed necessary because of the nature of pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Even when present in the water in extremely small amounts, some chemicals tend to accumulate in fish tissue because fish absorb contaminants from the water and sediment and from the food they eat. The amount of contaminants fish accumulate depends on the species, size, age, sex, and feeding area of the fish.

Generally speaking, older larger individual fish accumulate the most contaminants, although in some cases contaminants are shed each time the fish spawn. Since fish accumulate many contaminants in their fatty tissues, certain species with higher oil content can pose more risk than others when both inhabit polluted areas.

For more information concerning health advisories for Delaware waters, contact the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control at 302-739-9914, and/or call the Division of Public Health at 302-739-4071 or 302-739-5617.


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