Fish consumption

Fish are an important part of a healthy diet!

Eating fish can provide many important health benefits. Fish are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Nutrients found in fish are also beneficial for the growth and development of children. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends eating 2-3 servings of fish per week as part of a healthy diet.

One fish, two fish. Bad fish, good fish.

Some fish can contain environmental contaminants. The most common contaminant in Colorado is mercury. Mercury is a metal that is found in soil, rock, air, and water. Fish are exposed to mercury that is in the water and their food. Nearly all fish have at least trace levels of mercury in them. The mercury builds up in their tissues over their lifespan.

Mercury can accumulate in your bloodstream and may harm your nervous system. Young children, developing fetuses, and breast-fed babies are at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

  • Bigger, older fish may have more mercury than younger, smaller fish
  • Cooking or cleaning fish does not remove mercury
  • The guidelines presented here apply to fish caught in Colorado. FDA guidelines for safely eating fish from restaurants and stores can be found HERE.
Making informed choices about the fish you eat

It’s very satisfying to come home after a day of fishing our beautiful Colorado waters and cooking up your fresh catch for dinner. However, now that you know that contaminants may be present in your freshly-caught fish, you might wonder if you should avoid eating fish altogether. Not to worry! You can still safely eat the fish you catch - and don’t forget that eating fish has many health benefits.

The fish in Colorado are routinely tested for mercury levels. Colorado’s fish consumption advisory program isn’t designed to prevent you from eating fish; rather it is designed to help you make informed choices about how much fish you eat, what species and sizes of fish you eat, and what waterbodies you eat fish from. 

Site-specific guidelines 

Fish Consumption Dashboard

Statewide guidelines

Default guidelines for the general population, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, and children ages 6 and younger. Follow these guidelines if there are no site-specific guidelines for the waterbody you are fishing.

Food safety