Is My Fish Safe to Eat?

Annually, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) evaluates the amount of contaminants in sport-caught fish and determines whether or not there are any health risks associated with eating fish from Missouri water bodies.

All fish contain some small amount of chemical contaminants. In most instances and for most people, the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential health risks from contaminants.

  • Eat smaller, legal-size, younger fish because they tend to have lower levels of contamination than larger fish of the same species.
  • Fillet your fish, remove the skin, and trim away fatty portions to minimize the amount of contaminants in the fish you eat.

The meal advice in the summarized advisory table below is based on this preparation technique. Because children are particularly sensitive to some contaminants, DHSS makes special recommendations for pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers, and children under 13 years old. Other recommendations are for everyone.

The fish advisory may be revised throughout the year. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services offers updates and further details on contaminants and preparation techniques to minimize contaminants. You can contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, PO Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65109-0570; 573-751-6102.

Fish Advisory
Advisory Population Location1—Contaminant Species Length Serving Advice
Sensitive populations: Pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers, and children under the age 13 All U.S. water bodies — mercury All fish All sizes 1 per week
Because all fish have various levels of mercury, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends sensitive populations consume no more than one fish meal per week when no other advisory is present.
Statewide — mercury Largemouth, spotted, smallmouth bass, and walleye Greater than 12" 1 per month
Flathead, channel, blue catfish Greater than 30" 1 per month
Clearwater Lake in Reynolds County — mercury White bass Greater than 15" 1 per month
Crappie Greater than 9" 1 per month
All consumers Mississippi and Missouri rivers — PCBs, chlordane, mercury Shovelnose sturgeon (excluding eggs) All sizes 1 per month
Common carp Greater than 21" 1 per week
Flathead,channel,
blue catfish
Greater than 17" 1 per week
Sturgeon eggs   Do not eat.
Blue River from Minor Park to the Missouri River in Jackson County including Indian Creek up to Holmes Road — PCBs, chlordane Common carp and catfish All sizes 1 per month
Big River in St. Francois and Jefferson counties — lead Sunfish2, carp, redhorse, and other suckers All sizes Do not eat.
Flat River in St. Francois County from Hwy. B, 6 miles downstream to where it enters Big River — lead Sunfish2, carp, redhorse, and other suckers All sizes Do not eat.
Big Creek near Glover in Iron County — lead Sunfish2 All sizes Do not eat.
Simpson Park Lake at Simpson Park in St. Louis County —
mercury, chlordane, PCBs
Buffalo species Greater than 16" 1 per month
Lake Buteo in Johnson County — mercury, chlordane Largemouth and smallmouth bass All sizes Do not eat.
Carp and catfish All sizes Do not eat.

1 If you fish at a location with warning signs posted, follow those specific local guidelines. The locations in this summary table do not include local warnings.

2 Sunfish included in this advisory are bluegill, green sunfish, longear sunfish, warmouth, and rock bass.