Government of Nova Scotia
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Nova Scotia Environment

Fish consumption advisory

 

Please note that this advisory may be revised as new data becomes available.

Mercury

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal in the environment. It was also used in many consumer goods and may still be found in products such as thermometers, mirrors, batteries, electrical switches and fluorescent lights.

Mercury is a concern because it can be toxic to people and other living organisms. It does not break down in the environment and it accumulates in living organisms, such as fish. When people eat these fish, they may have negative health effects.

How much fish is safe to eat?

While there are health benefits to eating fish, there are some species in Nova Scotia that should only be eaten in smaller quantities or not at all if you are at higher risk.

 

 

Consumption limit

Species

Fish Length < (measured nose to tail fork)

General Public Over age 12

Women who are or may become pregnant
and / or are breast feeding

Children age 5-11

Children age 1-4

Infants (less than 1 year of age)

Rainbow Trout

Any Size

No Advisory

No Advisory

No Advisory

No Advisory

No Advisory

Brook Trout

Under 25 cm
(9.8 in)

2 servings
per week

1 serving
per week

1½ servings
per month

3/4 serving
per month

½ serving
per month

Brook Trout

Over 25 cm
(9.8 in)

1 serving
per week

1 serving
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Yellow Perch

Under 20 cm
(7.9 in)

1 serving
per week

2 servings
per month

½ serving
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Yellow Perch

Over 20 cm
(7.9 in)

1 serving
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

White Perch

Under 25 cm
(9.8 in)

2 servings
per month

1 serving
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

White Perch

Over 25 cm
(9.8 in)

1 serving
per month

½ serving
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Chain Pickerel

Under 35 cm
(13.8 in)

2 servings
per week

1 serving
per week

1½ servings
per month

1 serving
per month

½ serving
per month

Chain Pickerel

Over 35 cm
(13.8 in)

2 servings
per month

1 serving
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Smallmouth Bass

Under 35 cm
(13.8 in)

3 servings
per month

1 serving
per month

1½ servings
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Smallmouth Bass

Over 35 cm
(13.8 in)

2 servings
per month

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Other freshwater species

Any Size

1 serving
per week

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

Avoid

1 serving = 75g or 2½oz or 125mL or ½cup of cooked fish (Canada’s Food Guide)

Why are there limits on some fish but not others?

Fish that feed on other fish tend to occupy a higher position in the food chain so they have higher mercury levels in their muscle tissue. For example, in Nova Scotia, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel feed on smaller, younger fish. Therefore, species like these may have higher mercury levels.

If there is no fish consumption advisory, it means that either the fish species has not been tested for mercury levels, or it is below human health guidelines for mercury levels.
Health Canada provides more information about mercury in fish.

POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBS)

Scientific research suggests that over a number of years, eating a steady diet of contaminated fish may be harmful to human health. Trout caught in two lakes in Nova Scotia showed levels of PCBs that are above the acceptable guidelines established by Health Canada.

As a precaution, we advise the public not to eat fish taken from Five Island and Sheldrake Lakes.

Catch and release regulations are in place on Five Island, Sheldrake, and other lakes in this area (see Recreational Fishing Area 3 in the Nova Scotia Anglers’ Handbook.