May 24, 2012

The State Water Resources Control Board's Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) has released findings from California’s largest-ever statewide survey of contaminants in sport fish from coastal locations. This report presents findings from 2009 and 2010 - including new data for 26 locations sampled in 2010. Monitoring in 2010 focused on the North and Central coasts, and revealed relatively high methylmercury concentrations in these areas. This initial screening study is the first step in an effort to identify and quantify contaminants in California’s coastal waters to provide a detailed evaluation of human and wildlife exposure and to establish priorities for cleanup actions.

The Coast Survey was funded by the State Water Resources Control Board’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The Coast Survey is one component of a new program that is tracking sport fish contamination in all California water bodies. Results from a statewide assessment of contaminants in sport fish from California rivers and streams will be available in May 2013.

An updated advisory for San Francisco Bay that incorporates the Coast Survey data is available from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

Fact sheet summarizing the findings of the survey

Press release from the State Board

The full Coast Survey Report, with citation information here

The public can access results for individual fishing locations included in the Coast Survey (as well as the earlier SWAMP Lakes Survey and other studies) through the California Water Quality Monitoring Council’s “My Water Quality” web portal. Information on sport fish contamination can be accessed by clicking on “Is It Safe to Eat Fish and Shellfish from Our Waters?”



San Mateo County Times, by Aaron Kinney, New Study Details Mercury Contamination in California Sport Fish, reprinted in the Marin Independent Journal, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, and Miami Herald

Long Beach Press Telegram, news blurb, Fish in Long Beach waters have risky contamination levels, reprinted in Contra Costa Times


San Francisco Chronicle, by Demian Bulwa, California sport fish survey: mercury, PCBs higher


Jay Davis was invited by Michael Krasny to join him on KQED's Forum to discuss the report's findings, and what they mean for seafood consumers and fishermen.


Jay Davis appears on Food Chain Radio to discuss fish contamination. Listen


Programs and Focus Areas: 
Clean Water Program