The FDA advice states that women should select a variety of seafood including shellfish, canned fish, smaller ocean fish or farm-raised fish, and that they could safely consume 12 ounces per week of cooked fish (four 3-ounce servings). The US EPA/FDA joint advisory also includes information on specific types of fish that are low or high in methylmercury and advice to consumers to check their local advisories about the safety of locally caught fish. The advisory further cautions pregnant women and women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, as well as women who are nursing and young children, to avoid consuming shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. This recommendation applies to commercially obtained as well as consumer-caught fish. The US EPA national fishing advisory states that, for consumer-caught fish, consumers should first consult their local advisories, or in the case where no advisory exists, to restrict consumption of consumer-caught fish to one “8-ounce (raw; 6 ounces cooked) meal per week” (US EPA, 2004a) for an adult with a body weight of 70 kilograms (kg) (154 pounds) (see Table 1-2).

State Advisories

The five primary bioaccumulative pollutants for which fishing advisories have been established are mercury, PCBs, chlordane, dioxins, and DDT and its metabolites, although approximately 76 percent of all advisories issued addressed mercury contamination. States establish their own advisory criteria, which may be based on established federal advisories, and determine which water bodies to monitor; these may include coastal waters, rivers, and lakes. Across the states and territories of the United States, the number of waterbodies under advisory represents 35 percent of total lake acres (approximately 101,818 lakes), 24 percent of total river miles (approximately 846,310 river miles), and 71 percent of the contiguous coastal waters (US EPA, 2004b).

The National Listing of Fish Advisories database (Source: listed 3,089 advisories in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Territory of American Samoa in 2003 (US EPA, 2005b).

In 2003, 31 states had statewide advisories in effect, including new statewide advisories for all rivers and lakes in Montana and Washington, and an advisory for marine fish in Hawaii. In addition to advisories in place in 2003, 16 states across the United States had Safe Eating Guidelines, either for specific waterbodies or inclusive of all rivers and lakes statewide. The guidelines are issued to inform and reassure the public that certain species of fish taken from these waterbodies have been tested and shown to contain very low levels of contaminants. The only state within the continental United States that did not have an advisory of any type in 2003 was Wyoming

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