New York State Department of Health Issues Updated Recommendations on Eating Fish: Women and Children Can Now Eat More Fish from Lake Ontario, and Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 21, 2021)- The New York State Department of Health today issued new advice about eating fish caught in New York waters that allows the entire family to eat fish from Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and most of the St. Lawrence River. Women under 50 and children under 15 can eat up to four, one-half pound, meals a month of brown bullhead, rainbow smelt, rock bass, white sucker, and yellow perch. They can also eat up to one, one-half pound meal per month of Lake Ontario salmon and several other fish species. This new advice highlights the success of banning the use of certain industrial chemicals combined with several decades of diligent efforts by state, provincial, tribal, and federal partners to monitor, assess, and clean up industrial contamination in the Great Lakes basin.

"It is very exciting when we see a decline in chemicals in fish that allows whole families to enjoy fresh caught fish meals from some of the largest fisheries in New York State. Lake Ontario, and the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers offer incredible fishing opportunities. By following our advice anglers can make healthier choices about eating and sharing the fish they catch with families and friends, while reducing the potential for exposures,"said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

"New York State is making significant investments and undertaking critical actions to protect our waters from contamination," said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Holding polluters accountable ensures anglers, both expert and novice, can enjoy fishing state waters with the information they need to determine when and where they can safely eat their catch. New York is home to some of the world's best fishing, and now today's announcement is another reason for people to enjoy it."

Women in their childbearing years who eat highly contaminated fish and become pregnant may be at an increased risk of having children who are slower to develop and learn. Some chemicals may be passed on in mother's milk. Chemicals may also have a negative effect on the development of young children. Women beyond their childbearing years and men may face fewer health risks from some chemicals. For that reason, women over age 50 and men over age 15 are given more leeway to eat more kinds of sportfish (fish you catch) and more often.

The Department issues advice about eating sportfish because some fish contain chemicals such as mercury and PCBs at levels that could adversely affect health. These DOH health advisories help people make better choices about where to fish and which sportfish to eat. They also provide advice on how to handle and prepare fish to reduce their exposure.

The health advice is based on fish contaminant data collected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) statewide fish monitoring program. Based on these data, the DOH changed its advice for the following waterbodies. Click on the links in the table to view the latest advice for these waters:

  • Fourth Lake*of Fulton Chain(Herkimer and Hamilton Co)
  • Francis Lake(Lewis Co)
  • Lake Champlain, Bay within Cumberland Head to Peru Boat Launch(Clinton Co)
  • Piseco Lake(Hamilton Co)
  • Salmon River(Clinton Co)
  • Stark Falls Reservoir(St. Lawrence Co)
Adirondack Region
  • Delta Lake(Oneida Co)
  • Sixmile Creek,downstream of Gulf Rd (Oneida Co)
Leatherstocking/Central Region
  • Lake Ontario*(multiple)
  • Skaneateles Creek*(Cayuga and Onondaga Co)
Finger Lakes Region
  • Lake Ontario*(multiple)
  • Niagara River*,downstream of Niagara Falls(Niagara Co)
Western Region
  • Moodna Creek,downstream of Firthcliffe Dam to mouth of Hudson River(Orange Co)
Hudson Valley Region
  • Lake Ontario*(multiple)
  • St. Lawrence River*(multiple)
St. Lawrence Valley Region
  • Carmans River,freshwater and tidal portions(Suffolk Co)
  • Quantuck Creek,tidal portion(Suffolk Co)
  • Forge River,tidal portion(Suffolk Co)
  • Smith Pond,Rockville Centre(Nassau Co)
Long Island Region

* Indicates a relaxation of advice allowing more people to eat more fish

A recently released data packet about PCB levels in Hudson River striped bass is also available on the website. This packet highlights advice that anglers should practice catch and release fishing of striped bass between Troy and Catskill due to high levels of PCBs found in these fish. Women and children should not eat any Hudson River fish caught between Corinth and NYC. Everyone else planning to eat their catch should fish south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Catskill in the Hudson River where PCB levels in fish are lower.

More New York State advice about eating fish is found at where consumers can also order publications about fish consumption online, free of charge.