New York State Health Advice on Eating Fish You Catch

Man holding a large steelhead fish
"That fish was so memorable for me, it was about -17 [degrees] that day. We had about 30 inches of snow on the ride up and it didn’t stop snowing the entire time we were there. That steelhead was one of the biggest I’ve ever caught, it was an epic day."
David Haas - Kings Park, NY

Fishing is fun, and fish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish contain high quality protein, essential nutrients, healthy fish oils, and are low in saturated fat. However, some fish contain chemicals at levels that may be harmful to health. To help people make healthier choices about which fish to eat, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) issues advice about eating sportfish (the fish you catch).

The health advice about which fish to eat depends on:

Where You Fish

The advice on eating fish from New York State depends upon where you fish. The state is divided into ten regions. Each has great fishing and many waters where everyone in the family can eat up to four fish meals a month. However, some waters and their tributaries have been affected by industrial chemicals, pesticides, and/or mercury. Our advice is to limit fish meals or avoid eating fish from these waters with specific advice.

Who You Are

People who can bear children (under 50) and children under 15 (the sensitive population) are advised to limit the kinds of fish they eat and how often they eat them from waters with known chemicals. People who eat highly contaminated fish and become pregnant may have an increased risk of having children who are slower to develop and learn. Chemicals may have a greater effect on the development of young children or unborn babies. Also, some chemicals may be passed on in mother’s milk.

People beyond their childbearing years and those who do not bear children (the general population) may face fewer health risks from some chemicals. For that reason, the advice for the general population allows them to eat more kinds of sportfish and more often (see advice tables for each region).

What You Catch

Some fish have higher levels of chemicals than others. In general, smaller fish are less contaminated than larger, older fish of the same species (for more information see Tips for Healthier Eating). There is specific advice about limiting or not eating certain kinds of fish due to contamination across the state in approximately 150 waters (see advice tables). However, NY is a water rich state and you can also choose to eat fish from waters not listed in the advice tables and follow the general advice to eat up to four meals per month in thousands of other waters.

Use the drop down menu to view fish advisories by region.

New York State map with fish advisory regions New York State map with fish advisory regions