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NC Division of Public Health
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Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology

Fish Consumption Advisories

To find the list of current fish advisories go here

For information about the July 2023 Cape Fear River Fish Consumption Advisory, please see the NCDHHS press release.

Many people enjoy fishing in North Carolina's waters. They also enjoy eating their catch, and fish is a healthy, low-fat source of protein. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) routinely monitors water quality and fish tissue for potential problems (Learn more about the DEQ Water Sciences Section). The vast majority of North Carolina's waters don't have problems, and most fish from them are safe to eat and enjoy. North Carolina encourages people to eat a wide variety of fish because of the health benefits to the heart and to children's developing brains and nervous systems.

However, just as in the rest of the nation, certain fish in and around North Carolina contain high levels of contaminants that may pose a risk to human health. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issues fish consumption advisories for those fish, telling people to either limit consumption or, if necessary, avoid eating those kinds of fish entirely. Unborn children and young children are often more susceptible to developing problems as a result of contact with contaminants; that's why advisories are often more stringent for women of childbearing age and for children.

Benefits of Eating Fish

Adding fish to your diet can be a good way to get lean, high-quality protein. Along with protein, fish are a great provider of healthy fats, vitamins, and mineral

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats found commonly in fish. They have been found to benefit heart health by:

  • Decreasing triglycerides, lowering the risk of strokes and heart disease
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing blood clotting
  • Reducing irregular heartbeats

Other nutrients found in fish like omega-6 fatty acids, iron, iodine, and choline have been shown to help brain development in children when eaten by the mother or child.

Overall, adding lean proteins like fish to your diet, along with decreases in red meats and processed meats, have been shown to increase overall health by:

  • Promoting bone health
  • Decreasing chance of becoming overweight or obese
  • Decreasing the risk of colon and rectal cancers

Common Fish Contaminants

Learn more about mercury in fish and what fish are safe to eat.

Learn more about how fish consumption advisories are developed.

Current fish advisories in effect for North Carolina are available on the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Current Fish Advisories page as well as through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For Additional Information