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Let's Talk About...What fish are safe to eat?
Most fish are good to eat and good for you—high in protein and other nutrients, and low in fat. But some kinds of fish contain high amounts of mercury, which can cause health problems in people, especially children. People should avoid eating those fish. To help you make the healthiest choices, North Carolina offers the following advice.
What fish is safe to eat

Fish LOW in Mercury

  • Women of childbearing age, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children under age 15  - eat up to 2 meals per week
  • All other people  - eat up to 4 meals per week 

Fish HIGH in Mercury

  • Women of childbearing age, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children under age 15 - do not eat
  • All other people - eat only 1 meal per week

AVOID fish that are HIGH in mercury:

Ocean fish:

  • Almaco jack
  • Banded rudderfish
  • Canned white tuna (albacore tuna)
  • Cobia
  • Crevalle jack
  • Greater amberjack
  • South Atlantic grouper (gag, scamp, red and snowy)
  • King Mackerel
  • Ladyfish
  • Little tunny
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna (fresh or frozen)**

Freshwater fish:

  • Blackfish (bowfin)*
  • Catfish (caught wild)*
  • Jack fish (chain pickerel)*
  • Largemouth bass (statewide)
  • Warmouth*

*High mercury levels have been found in blackfish (bowfin), catfish, jack fish (chain pickerel), and warmouth caught south and east of Interstate 85.

**Different species from canned light tuna

EAT fish that are LOW in mercury:

Ocean fish:

  • Black drum
  • Canned light tuna
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Croaker
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Jacksmelt
  • Lobster
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Ocean perch
  • Oysters
  • Pompano
  • Red drum
  • Salmon (canned, fresh or frozen)
  • Scallops
  • Sheepshead
  • Shrimp
  • Skate
  • Southern kingfish (sea mullet)
  • Spot
  • Speckled trout (spotted sea trout)
  • Tripletail
  • Whitefish
  • White grunt

Freshwater fish:

  • Bluegill Sunfish
  • Farm-raised catfish
  • Farm-raised crayfish
  • Farm-raised trout
  • Tilapia
  • Trout

Source: N.C. Division of Public Health. For more information, call 919.707.5900 or see

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