All fish caught in test of U.S. waters had mercury contamination

It seems this toxic element is now pretty much in all fish in the inland waters-

An argument for catch and release? 🙁  Not really appropriate for a quip. Really bad news!

All fish caught in U.S.-tested streams have mercury. By Elizabeth Weise. USA TODAY. Trout were among the least contaminated species!





  1. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Thank goodness I’ve hated to eat fish since I was a very small child.

    But, I lived in Ohio around all the coal no one ever pretended was clean … but even there, their way of protecting the air was to make the stacks high enough so it would dump on Canada instead.


  2. mikepost Avatar

    Catch and release is its own fantasy. Some estimate that 5-10% of all C&R fish are stressed to the point where they will die later. Given that there is no limit on C&R, one fly fisherman can C&R dozens of fish in a day (if he is better/luckier than I am) and may possibly actually kill more fish than if he had just taken his limit and gone home.

  3. The Trout Underground Avatar

    “Some” might estimate 55-10% mortality, but under most conditions (your mortality figures reflect the worst possible conditions, e.g. high water temps, overplaying, barbed hooks, etc), mortality is much lower, and an angler would have to catch hundreds of fish to equal the mortality of a single five fish limit.

    Even at 10% mortality, I’d have to C&R 50 fish to equal a five fish limit.

    The “fantasy” here is that C&R has impacts on fisheries above baseline levels. It almost never does.

  4. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Catch and release is only part of the solution. Barbless and crushed barbed hooks are a measure to reduce stress on the fish at point of release. I know that some states really enfoce their barbless rule. I have been using barbless hooks for at least 25 years.


  5. Michael Wells Avatar
    Michael Wells

    Mercury is released into the atmosphere by coal fired power plants, certain mining operations, cement plants and also by forest fires to name some of the largest sources. It should come as no surprise that all fish caught in this study are contaminated with mercury. Where in America are you not downwind of either a coal-fired power plant, cement plant, mining operation or forest fire?

    In order to keep yourself from mercury poisoning you should consider only eating shorter lived panfish, such as bluegill and crappie, or rainbow trout, salmon and kokanee. These fish do not live long enough to accumulate toxic levels of mercury like longer lived species such as lake trout, catfish, walleye and some larger bass.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Michael Wells,

    Very good advice. Thank you!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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