New York State Department of Health Issues Updated Fish Advisories for 2022

Now safe for entire family to eat some fish from every Adirondack Park water

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 19, 2022)– The New York State Department of Health today issued updated advisories for the consumption of fish from waterbodies in the State. The advisories provide important health information to New Yorkers who enjoy fishing for food, as well as, for fun.

This year's biggest change includes updated regional advice for the Adirondack Region allowing all family members to eat fish from every Adirondack Park water. Based on more than a decade of data from the Department of Environmental Conservation, the new Adirondack advice also reduces the number of specific advisories anglers must consider while protecting themselves and their families from mercury in fish, a long-term concern in the Adirondacks. Eleven other updates were made to waters around the state.

"The Adirondacks are among New York's most popular fishing and tourist destinations and this update is fantastic news for people who enjoy fresh-caught fish," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "We have had longstanding guidance for eating fish caught from the Adirondacks and we are pleased to be able to simplify our health advice for this region making it easier for anglers to follow while continuing to protect families."

Historically, the Department has issued 66 separate fish advisories for waters in the Adirondacks for similar fish, like walleye, smallmouth bass, or largemouth bass, making it onerous for anglers. New Adirondack advice streamlines the number of specific advisories to 16 and provides options for women and children to eat up to a ½ pound meal per month, even from those waters with specific advice. This is a major pivot from previous advice that restricted women and children from eating any fish from a water with a specific advisory. Among the new choices are some of our most popular fish for eating like brook trout and rainbow trout. The updated Adirondack advice also recommends avoiding eating yellow perch greater than 10 inches, walleye, chain pickerel, lake trout, rock bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and northern pike.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said,
"DEC's decades of work to improve air quality in the Adirondacks has led to less acid deposition and mercury in our waters, which means healthier fish. DEC will continue to track contaminants in fish in New York waterbodies to ensure the protection of public health and the environment and we're excited that more fish will be available for safe consumption."

The Department continues to simplify its advice — providing more options for women and children to consume fish and reducing the number of individual fish advisories for waters across New York State. To date, this approach has been applied to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, adding the entire Adirondack Region and the Mohawk River this year.

Fishing is a great activity and fish are an important part of a healthy diet. However, some fish contain chemicals at levels that may be harmful to humans. Each year, the New York State Department of Health updates its health advice due to concerns about contaminants in fish like mercury and PCBs. The advice helps people make healthier choices about which fish to eat and which to avoid. Women who become pregnant and eat highly contaminated fish may be at a higher risk of having children with developmental or learning delays. Children who eat a lot of contaminated fish may also have potential for negative effects on their development. Older adults may face fewer health risks from these chemicals, so the advice encourages them to enjoy these sport-caught fish more frequently.

Mercury is the chemical of concern in the Adirondacks. It occurs naturally but is also released into the environment from distant sources like coal combustion. New York State is a national leader in preventing the emission of mercury and other pollutants that cause contamination in wildlife and humans, particularly through the historic phasing out of in-state coal-fired power plants. Testing of fish in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and in some New York State reservoirs has shown certain fish have higher levels of mercury than in other parts of the state.

Based on an annual review of data, the Department adjusts advice about eating locally caught fish each year. This year, the Department changed its advice for the following waterbodies: Click on the links in the table to view the latest advice for these and other waters:

  • All Adirondack Waters
Adirondack Region
  • Mohawk River/Erie Canal (Herkimer, Montgomery)

Leatherstocking/Central Region
  • Coldbrook Creek(Chemung)
  • Owasco Lake (Cayuga)
Finger Lakes Region
  • Buffalo River and Harbor(Erie)
  • Eighteenmile Creek (Niagara)
  • Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River(Chautauqua, Erie)

Western Region
  • Hoosic River(Rensselaer)
  • Lake Welch (Rockland)
  • Saw Mill River, (Westchester)
  • Pepacton Reservoir (Delaware)
  • Mohawk River/Erie Canal (Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga)
  • East Branch Reservoir (Putnam)
Hudson Valley Region
  • Big Reed Pond (Suffolk)

Long Island Region

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