Fish Tissue Data Collected by EPA Partners

EPA partners, including state, local and tribal environmental health officials, collect fish tissue data that can be used by others to develop fish and shellfish advisories. For more information on specific data collected by these partners, see the websites below.

EPA requests fish tissue data from the states, territories and tribes annually, and data are added to the National Listing of Fish Advisories (NLFA) database every 2 years. From these data, EPA has developed an easy-to-use mapping tool that allows state, local and tribal fish advisory program managers and other technical users to search for fish tissue data.

The EPA does not analyze these data and does not require that these data be gathered in a specific way. This mapping tool provides a central repository as a service to and convenience for the public.

EPA began a cooperative effort in 1995 to assemble a nationwide data base on total mercury concentrations in fish tissue. The first objective of this project was to assemble and review data on the mercury contamination in fish tissue. This step included identifying appropriate state and federal agencies and other groups with relevant data on mercury concentrations in fish.

The second step in this project involved the development of a fish tissue data base, organizing relevant data to be used for future analyses. EPA focused data compilation efforts on obtaining results of state monitoring efforts during 1990-1995.

These data can be used to derive estimates of tissue concentrations, determine the number and frequency of samples taken and analyzed by state and calculate descriptive statistics on mercury concentrations in fish tissue. The current data base will facilitate EPA’s ability to determine additional and future data needs.

In the future, the data base may be used to identify and evaluate factors affecting mercury contamination in fish.

National Status and Trends (NS&T) is comprised of two nationwide programs, Mussel Watch and Bioeffects that are designed to describe the current status of, and detect changes in, the environmental quality of our Nation’s estuarine and coastal waters through environmental monitoring, assessment and related research.

  • Mussel Watch Program: This program is the longest continuous, nationwide contaminant monitoring program in U.S. coastal waters. The program analyzes sediment and bivalve tissue chemistry for a suite of organic contaminants and trace metals to identify trends at over 300 selected coastal sites from 1986 to present.
  • Bioeffects Assessment Program: This program identifies and assesses biological effects associated with contaminant exposure. Over forty intensive regional studies have been conducted since 1986 using the Sediment Quality Triad approach which utilizes a stratified random sampling method to determine the areal extent of contaminated sediments. The data include: sediment chemistry, toxicity, and species diversity and quantity for the same suite of organic contaminants and trace metals as the Mussel Watch Program.

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