Belize population warned about eating fish with high level of mercury

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BELMOPAN. Belize, Nov 29, CMC – The Belize government says two types of fishes here have been found to have had “above the recommended safety level”  and appealed to people not to eat more than six ounces of those fishes.
The Ministry of Health said that it had carried out the assessment of the mercury levels in fishes from the Macal River, Mopan, Belize and New River and found that the botasis and shortfin molly fishes “had levels of mercury above the recommended safety level.
“All other captured fishes tested were below the mercury safety level for consumption however they must be consumed with some caution especially Bay snook which was found to be slightly under the safety level.”
The Ministry of Health said that it was urging the public “not to eat more than six ounces for both botasis and Bay snook weekly,” adding that for the shortfin molly, no recommendation is given since it is a small aquarium fish not eaten by the public.
The Ministry said that the testing was undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Environment and the Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL), and that of the 13 species of fish tested from other rivers, five species, namely bay snook, baca, tilapia, shad and yellow sea catfish “had very high mercury levels above what is safe for consumption”.
It said in the case of bay snook, baca and tilapia, “mercury levels were almost twice as recommended for safe consumption”
The Ministry of Health said it is urging the public to obey the recommended amounts of fish to be eaten in any one-week period to prevent negative health impacts such as mental retardation in children, poor development of infants, damage to vision, weakening of muscles in the hands and feet.”
It said it was urging the population to consider other options ‘as a replacement …for the omega fatty acid that may be lost from the diet by not eating fish.
“The Ministry of Health assures the public 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 weekly consumption quantities of fish from the Macal, Mopan, Belize and New Rivers,” the Ministry of Health added.

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