February 03, 2007
The early findings show low levels of mercury in the following fish: ling cod, yellow eye rockfish, halibut over 50 pounds, spiny dogfish, and shark. With regard to all these species of fish mentioned, it appears the larger and older ones carry more mercury than the younger and smaller fish.
"The early findings show no reason whatsoever to stop eating or even for most individuals to reduce their consumption of fish," said Governor Palin. "I love Alaska seafood and will continue to enjoy it on a regular basis."
Eating fish is recommended as part of a healthy diet. Ling cod, rockfish, halibut, dogfish and shark are considered safe for consumption. However, pregnant women and children under the age of six should consider whether they should eat large quantities of these larger, older fish.
"We want an open and transparent process to consider both what the mercury data means and what advice we should be providing to the public," said Governor Palin. "Before we draw any firm conclusions or make any specific recommendations, we will hold a series of public workshops to present and consider the information we have and to talk about potential health effects. On a topic this important, to so many Alaskans, we need to hear from all experts and interests." More information on the data and on the proposed public hearings will be available in March.
Halibut caught by Alaska's commercial fishing industry and commonly sold to restaurants and grocery stores poses minimal risk for consumers because average weights of commercial landings are about 25 pounds.
The source of the mercury is thought to be deposition of airborne mercury from distant sources. It is this same phenomenon believed to be responsible for elevated levels of mercury in other parts of the world.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's Fish Monitoring Program, initiated in 2001, is an ongoing collaborative effort to collect and test fish for certain environmental contaminants. Partners include the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, and Alaska subsistence users and commercial fishermen.
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