Frightening Mercury Levels in River Fish
Tonight, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Environment and BECOL is giving another update on the levels of mercury in fish of the Macal, Mopan, Belize and New Rivers.
In the Macal, only two types of fish: Botasis and Shortfin Molly had levels of mercury above the recommended safety level. All other fishes tested were below the mercury safety level. but that doesn't mean it's all clear. The advisory says they must be consumed in moderations especially Bay snook which was found to be slightly under the safety level. So, you're advised not to eat more than six ounces of both Botasis and Bay snook weekly. The Shortfin Molly is not a factor since it is a small aquarium fish not eaten by the public.
Now, while that is the Macal, there are worrying results for other rivers.
13 species of fish were tested in the Mopan River near Benque, Calla Creek and Santa Familia, Belize River near Iguana Creek, Roaring Creek, Big Falls and Burrell Boom and the New River in the Orange Walk District.
Five of the 13 species, namely the Bay snook, Baca, Tilapia, Shad and Yellow Sea Catfish had, quote, "very high mercury levels above what is safe for consumption." In the case of Bay snook, Baca and Tilapia, mercury levels were almost twice as recommended for safe consumption.
So, first off, Baca from the Mopan River in the area of Benque Viejo is not to be consumed. As for Shad, only Only a maximum of 5 ounces from the
Mopan river is to be consumed weekly.
While, only 1.6 ounces of either Tilapia, Yellow Sea Catfish and Bay snook is recommended for consumption weekly from the
Mopan and Belize Rivers.
Notably, the Mopan River and upper Belize River have higher mercury levels than the Macal River. In the lower Belize River near Burrell Boom and the New River, mercury safety levels were slightly above the maximum fish mercury level safe for consumption.