Fish Consumption Patterns and Mercury Advisory Knowledge Among Fishers in the Haw River Basin.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Fish consumption has numerous health benefits, with fish providing a source of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids. However, some fish also contain contaminants that can impair human health. In North Carolina, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued fish consumption advisories due to methylmercury contamination in fish. Little is known about local fishers' consumption patterns and advisory adherence in North Carolina.


We surveyed a consecutive sample of 50 fishers (74.6% positive response rate) who reported eating fish caught from the Haw River Basin or Jordan Lake. They provided information on demographic characteristics, species caught, and the frequency of local fish consumption. Additionally, fishers provided information on their knowledge of fish consumption advisories and the impact of those advisories on their fishing and fish consumption patterns.


The majority of participants were male (n = 44) and reported living in central North Carolina. Catfish, crappie, sunfish, and large-mouth bass were consumed more frequently than other species of fish. Of the fishers surveyed, 8 reported eating more than 1 fish meal high in mercury per week, which exceeds the North Carolina advisory recommendation. Most participants (n = 32) had no knowledge of local fish advisories, and only 4 fishers reported that advisories impacted their fishing practices.


We sampled 50 fishers at 11 locations. There is no enumeration of the dynamic population of fishers and no way to assess the representativeness of this sample.


Additional outreach is needed to make local fishers aware of fish consumption advisories and the potential health impacts of eating high-mercury fish, which may also contain other persistent and bioaccumulative toxins.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnston, JE; Hoffman, K; Wing, S; Lowman, A

Published Date

  • January 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 77 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 9 - 14

PubMed ID

  • 26763238

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4762258

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0029-2559

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.18043/ncm.77.1.9


  • eng