San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Should I eat fish caught in San Francisco Bay?

If you eat fish, be sure to choose the right type of fish for your gender and age to avoid unsafe levels of mercury and PCBs.

Certain types of fish contain high levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are pollutants in San Francisco Bay (and many other water bodies) that can harm your health. Follow gender and age-specific guidelines issued by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to limit consumption of these pollutants.

Trim off skin and fat. Remove the guts. Cook thoroughly and drain juices.

Fish skin, guts, livers and fat contain about half of the PCBs found in a whole fish. Mercury may also be present in fish livers and other organs. Remove these parts of the fish, cook the fillet thoroughly and drain the juices to reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Related Content

Background on mercury in seafood, pollution in San Francisco Bay and bioaccumulation

Additional Resources

OEHHA factsheet on consuming fish from San Francisco Bay
OEHHA San Francisco Bay Health Advisory FAQs
Natural Resources Defense Council wallet guide to eating fish from any water body
Seafood Watch west coast pocket guide to ocean-friendly seafood


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