Fish Consumption Guidelines

To view the State of Georgia Fish Consumption Guidelines click here.  

Fish and seafood are excellent sources of protein, minerals, and vitamins, and play a role in maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some fish contain contaminants that can be harmful if you are exposed to them over a period of time. Over time, your body can build up harmful levels of toxic chemicals. By far, the most common toxic chemicals in Georgia fish are mercury and PCBs. Contaminated fish may not look; smell, or taste different, but they can still harm you if you are repeatedly exposed to certain contaminants.

The quality of sport fish caught in Georgia is very good; however, low levels of some toxic chemicals have been found in some fish. To know how often certain species of fish can be safely eaten, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) has developed the booklet, Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia Waters.

The booklet is updated annually and is available from several places including GDNRs State and Regional offices, District and County Health Departments, and popular fishing-related outlets. Information targeting the sport fisher is placed in the Georgia Fishing Regulations. Both of these are also available on the GDNR website.

It is safe to eat most fish caught in Georgia waters and purchased in stores and restaurants. The GDNR guidelines are designed so that you can still get the benefits of eating fish by wisely choosing:

  • how much fish you eat,

  • how often you eat fish,

  • safer types of fish, and

  • safer ways to prepare fish.

The Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia Waters are designed to help you understand the fish species that you should avoid eating, those that you can eat in limited amounts, and fish of which you can eat unlimited amounts.. The guidelines list the lakes, rivers, streams, coastal areas, and other water bodies in Georgia, and specify the amounts of each species that are safe to eat in weekly, monthly, or unlimited amounts.

The Chemical Hazards Program is working with GDNR to inform people about the health risks associated with eating contaminated fish. The guidelines are especially important for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing, young children, and for other sensitive populations.

Contact the Chemical Hazards Program for more information about the health benefits from eating fish and seafood, and the risks associated with eating contaminated fish and seafood.