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Raw Fish + High Mercury Levels = Bad News


This post will specifically cover high mercury levels, but for more on what fish is safe to eat visit this page and if you have fundamental questions on raw meat & bacteria, check this page out.

A reader commented earlier about sushi and raw fish and if it was okay to eat. I personally don't eat fish, but there are quite a few rawfoodies out there who are into raw fish. I thought the least we could do here at WLIR is point readers in the right direction.

A great place to start is addressing the concern over high mercury levels and ranking the severity of fish.

Fortunately the EPA was kind enough to lay this information out. Note: The EPA is an organization filled with politically slanted science. So when you review this list, collected by the Natural Resources Defense Council, take into account that some information could be industry skewed.

The list below shows the amount of various types of fish that a woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant can safely eat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. People with small children who want to use the list as a guide should reduce portion sizes. Adult men, and women who are not planning to become pregnant, are less at risk from mercury exposure but may wish to refer to the list for low-mercury choices.

Protecting yourself -- and the fish: Certain fish, even some that are low in mercury, make poor choices for other reasons, most often because they have been fished so extensively that their numbers are perilously low. These fish are marked with an asterisk (read more below).

HIGHEST MERCURY (Avoid eating)

  • Grouper*
  • Marlin*
  • Orange roughy*
  • Tilefish *
  • Swordfish
  • Shark *
  • Mackerel (king)


  • Bass (saltwater)*
  • Croaker
  • Halibut*
  • Tuna (canned, white albacore) click for more specific guidelines
  • Tuna (fresh bluefin, ahi)
  • Sea trout
  • Bluefish
  • Lobster (American/Maine)


  • Eat no more than six 6-ounce servings per month
  • Carp
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Crab (dungeness)
  • Snapper*
  • Crab (blue)
  • Herring
  • Crab (snow)
  • Monkfish*
  • Perch (freshwater)
  • Skate
  • Cod*
  • Tuna (canned, chunk light) click for more specific guidelines
  • Tuna (fresh Pacific albacore)


  • Anchovies
  • Butterfish
  • Calamari (squid)
  • Caviar (farmed)
  • Crab (king)*
  • Pollock
  • Catfish
  • Whitefish
  • Perch (ocean)
  • Scallops
  • Flounder*
  • >Haddock*
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Lobster (spiny/rock)
  • Shad
  • Sole
  • Crawfish/crayfish
  • Salmon**
  • Shrimp*
  • Clams
  • Tilapia
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Sturgeon (farmed)
  • Trout (freshwater)