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Is It Safe to Eat the Fish?

Freshwater Fish Consumption Guidelines


While fish can be an important part of a healthy diet, some freshwater fish in New Hampshire contain varying levels of contaminants and pose a potential health risk. For all freshwater fish (except stocked trout), please follow these fish consumption guidelines provided by the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES):


  • Pregnant and nursing women, and women who may get pregnant CAN SAFELY EAT one 8-ounce meal per month of freshwater fish.
  • Children under age 7 CAN SAFELY EAT one 4-ounce meal per month of freshwater fish.
  • All other adults and children age 7 and older CAN SAFELY EAT four 8-ounce meals per month of freshwater fish.
  • Stocked trout contains relatively low levels of mercury. For rainbow and brown trout women of childbearing age and children can safely eat one meal per week, others can eat 6 meals per week. Brook trout could be either stocked or from a reproducing population, therefore they should be consumed at the rate of the general statewide advisory.
  • When eating bass, pickerel, white perch or yellow perch, limit consumption to fish 12 inches or less in length while following the above guidelines.
  • Additional guidelines apply to freshwater fish taken from Ashuelot Pond in Washington, Crystal Lake in Gilmanton, Dubes Pond in Hookset, Jackman Reservoir in Hillsboro, May Pond in Washington, Mascoma Lake in Enfield and Lebanon, Tower Hill Pond in Candia, and the Comerford and Moore Reservoirs on the Connecticut River (fish from these waterbodies in New Hampshire have been shown to have higher than average mercury concentrations; sensitive populations should not consume any fish, others may consume two meals per month). Additional guidelines also apply to the Androscoggin River from Berlin to the Maine border, which is catch-and-release only.
  • Additional guidelines apply for eating saltwater fish. Learn more or contact the NH Department of Environmental Services at (603) 271-3994.


All of the fish-mercury consumption limits should be considered together. For example, a pregnant woman who eats two cans of light tuna per week is advised not to consume any additional meals of other ocean fish or freshwater fish that week.


Within these guidelines, the public is encouraged to continue eating fish as part of a healthy diet. Fish are high in protein and low in saturated fat and cholesterol compared to meat or poultry.



To find more information regarding the health effects of mercury or details on specific advisories, contact:


NH Department of Environmental Services
Environmental Health Program
(603) 271-1370