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Findings of Mercury in Fish from the Macal River and Other Rivers

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Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2019. 5:45 pm CST.

By BBN Staff:  The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and the Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL), has completed another assessment of mercury levels in fishes from the Macal, Mopan, Belize, Rio Grande, and New rivers.  
 
The following advisory is being issued to guide the public on the safe amounts of fish that can be eaten to avoid ill effects of potential mercury exposure.
 
Macal River Fish
 
Analysis from this year’s mercury testing indicated that only 3 of 18 fish species tested had mercury levels above the recommended dose of 0.5 mg/kg. 
 
These were Botasi and Cichlid from upstream Vaca Dam and Bay Snook from the Cristo Rey village area along the Macal River in the Cayo District. 
 
The Botasi was found to contain almost twice the recommended level of mercury for fish consumption at 0.95 mg/kg.  
 
The Bay Snook had 0.83 mg/kg and the Cichlid 0.71mg/kg.   
 
All three fish species with elevated mercury were samples collected from the Macal River.  Important to note is that all other fish from the other four rivers had acceptable levels.  
 
The Ministry is notifying the public that weekly amounts of fish allowed to be eaten   from the above-mentioned locations are as follows:  
 
Bay snook from Cristo Rey Village area- 1.7 ounces 
Botasi from Upstream Vaca Dam – 4.7 ounces 
Cichlid from Upstream Vaca Dam- 2.8 ounces 
 
It is also recommended that the following be eaten to serve as replacement options for the omega fatty acids that may be lost from the diet by not eating fish:
 
1.Eat fish from other locations in the country. 
 
2.Eat replacement foods such as local chicken, pumpkin seeds (pepitos), sesame seeds (Wangla seed), cashew nuts, avocados, spinach.
 
3.Use of oils from flaxseed, canola, corn, olive or soybean 
 
The Ministry of Health says that it remains watchful on this issue and will continue to issue the necessary advisories as required.   
 
Let’s remain safe and healthy and follow the recommended advisories.

 

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