Help the Government of Canada organize its website!

Complete an anonymous 5-minute questionnaire. Start now.

Article Title
Date

New National Database Provides Insights on Mercury Levels in Fish Across Canada

2013-08-08

The Canadian Fish Mercury Database, assembled to conduct a national assessment of mercury risks to predatory fish and wildlife, was constructed from data collected from measurements of mercury in over 330,000 freshwater fish from more than 5,000 locations across Canada. It provides the most comprehensive summary of fish mercury measurements in Canada.

In a follow-up study using the database, mercury concentrations were estimated in a standard-length indicator fish (yellow perch) at each sampling location, enabling mercury comparisons across locations without the problem of comparing mercury levels in different species and sizes of fish. Mapping the resulting data revealed a general trend of increasing fish mercury concentrations from west to east across Canada.

Neil Burgess, a researcher in Environment Canada’s Wildlife and Landscape Science Directorate, and scientists from Queen’s and St. Mary’s Universities collected available data on the levels of mercury in fish across Canada. The database now includes mercury data for 104 fish species. The data were provided by federal and provincial agencies, private industry, universities and non-governmental organizations.

Map of the estimated mercury concentrations (µg/g Hg, wet weight) in standard-length (12 cm) whole yellow perch across Canada. (Crown Copyright © 2013, originally published by Elsevier Ltd. in Environmental Pollution)

Map of the estimated mercury concentrations (µg/g Hg, wet weight) in standard-length (12 cm) whole yellow perch across Canada. (Crown Copyright © 2013, originally published by Elsevier Ltd. in Environmental Pollution)

Depew, D.C., Burgess, N.M., Anderson, M.R., Baker, R., Bhavsar, S.P., Bodaly, R.A., Eckley, C.S., Evans, M.S., Gantner, N., Graydon, J.A., Jacobs, K., LeBlanc, J.E., St. Louis, V.L., and Campbell, L.M. 2013. An overview of mercury concentrations in freshwater fish species: A national fish mercury dataset for Canada. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70: 436-451.                

Depew, D.C., Burgess, N.M., and Campbell, L.M. 2013. Modeling mercury concentrations in prey fish: Derivation of a national-scale common indicator of dietary mercury exposure for piscivorous fish and wildlife. Environmental Pollution 176: 234-243.                 

Contact: Neil Burgess, (709) 772-4143, neil.burgess@ec.gc.ca, Wildlife and Landscape Science Directorate