Mercury Concentrations High in Fishermen.

Peter’s post on mercury generated some passionate responses. Things have quited down a bit around here so I thought I would throw a bit of gas on the fire.

Oceana released results of hair tests conducted at last year’s Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, the oldes and largest saltwater fishing tournament in the US. The result…rodeo contestants had significantly higher levels of mercury in their bodies than would be found in the general population. This study mirrors that done a mere 6 years ago in which the Press-Register showed that anglers have higher mercury levels than non-anglers. Some Gulf Coast residents were found to have mercury levels five to nine times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe level of 1 part per million in their hair.

Although the test are not as thorough as I would have liked to seen (65 of an ~3,000 participants), Oceana does provide fairly convincing results. A third of the 65 contestants had mercury levels above the EPA safe level, and the average of the total group was 0.93 parts per million, or nearly equal to the safe level. The reason for the high levels…the anglers who reported eating the most fish, especially large predators where mercury can concentrate, possessed the highest mercury levels,

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

2 Replies to “Mercury Concentrations High in Fishermen.”

  1. To summarize the debate in the sushi post,

    …online critics of a mercury study targeting tuna sushi in major US metropolitan areas claimed that US ‘actionable levels’ for mercury are 10-12 times too low and that US physicians warn pregnant women against seafood consumption mostly to meet the requirements of overly protective government standards.

    The primary assertion was that mercury levels in fish were not harmful to adults, and that the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids outweighed any potential harm from regular seafood consumption. The question would be whether these fishermen suffer any real ailments due to mercury.

    One thing missing from the earlier conversation was the question of

  2. And I typically eat sushi once or twice a month, but get the 3 rolls for 10$ lunch special… (that 18 pieces, that eel is so yummy… and the spicy mercury laden tuna… and of course spicy spider maki!)

    Since I’ve reproduced already, I guess its ok to get some Mercury in the ole veins. the kids came out all right.

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