Fish is an important part of a healthy diet providing many nutritional benefits. However, some varieties of fish (commercially available or caught recreationally) may contain high levels of mercury. 

People take in small amounts of mercury in their diet from eating fish. In most fish, the levels are very low. However, some varieties contain high levels of mercury due to their feeding habits or surrounding environment.

In freshwater environments containing mercury, some species of fish may contain high levels of mercury. This is more likely in fish that are predatory (eat other fish) and that live a long time in mercury-containing environments.

The Better Health Channel has information available about mercury in fish and broader information about eating your recreational fishing catch with care.

For information about PFAS in fish and waterfowl, see PFAS in the environment.

Limit intake of fish containing high levels of mercury

The following people should limit the number of servings they eat of fish varieties known to contain high levels of mercury:

  • pregnant women
  • women planning pregnancy
  • young children (up to six years of age).

This is because the developing brain of the unborn child and young children are sensitive to the effects of high mercury exposure.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand provides advice on the number of serves of different types of commercially sold fish (shark, ray, swordfish, barramundi, gemfish, orange roughy, ling and southern bluefin tuna) that can be safely consumed.

Information on specific sites

Information is available from studies done on the mercury levels of recreationally caught fish.


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 20 February 2020.

Reviewed 2 September 2020