In 2012, coastwide sampling across California found the highest mercury levels in the state in a leopard shark from Humboldt Bay. In July 2016, Humboldt Baykeeper received a grant from the California Environmental Protection Agency to analyze fish caught by local subsistence, tribal, and sport fishermen to determine the magnitude of local mercury contamination in Humboldt Bay fish and shellfish.

Californians need to know if the fish they catch are safe to eat, so the state keeps spending money on testing fish for mercury. 


Cal EPA recently awarded another grant to Humboldt Baykeeper to continue its mercury testing program, this time on some species of fish that were not the focus of previous testing. 


Those earlier tests revealed that not all the fish on the North Coast are safe to eat all the time.


Jennifer Kalt is Humboldt Baykeeper's director and our guest.  

The California Environmental Protection Agency awarded Humboldt Baykeeper, a program of the environmental conservation nonprofit Northcoast Environmental Center, $40,365 on June 26 to test Pacific lamprey, lingcod, rockfish and other fish species for mercury.

“The idea here is to get some more local information so people can base what they’re feeding themselves and their children in particular on local data instead of general data from other parts of the state,” said Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper.

A previous grant from the state EPA allowed Humboldt Baykeeper to assess the mercury content in coastal fish and shellfish and put out guidelines, which are available in English, Spanish and Hmong, regarding which ones are safest to eat.

“From that study, we had a lot of good news and bad news,” Kalt said. “Chinook Salmon are very low in mercury, so you can eat those up to 28 times per month. That’s good for tribal members because that amount is consistent with the amounts of fish they might eat.”

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UPDATED! Humboldt Baykeeper has been testing mercury levels in local fish since July 2016 with funding from the California Environmental Protection Agency. We’ve found that most local fish are safe to eat in moderation—with a few exceptions.

Click HERE for the Final Report

Click HERE for the updated Guidelines

Comiendo Pescado Con Seguridad Pautas para Humboldt Bay

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When it comes to a recent Humboldt Baykeeper study of mercury levels in Humboldt Bay fish and shellfish, the group’s director Jennifer Kalt said there’s good news and bad news.


The study found that men, women and children of all ages should avoid ingesting unsafe levels of mercury by taking leopard shark out of their diets. The study also recommends women under 45 years old and children avoid eating lingcod above 10 pounds.


Weekly serving amounts for other species — such as bat rays, California halibut, black rockfish — are also recommended to be low, according to the study.


Photo: From left to right, Captain Phil Glenn of Bluefin Charters, volunteer angler Doug Epperley, and fisheries consultant Ross Taylor participate in the study on mercury levels in Humboldt Bay fish in 2016.

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