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Safe-to-Eat Fish from the San Francisco Bay


Safe-to-Eat Fish from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean

We’re lucky to be able to eat fresh fish from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. Many fish in the bay and ocean are healthy and safe to eat, but some fish have high levels of toxins that can harm your health and are NOT safe to eat. Sign up for guideline updates.

Guide to Eating Fish from San Francisco Bay

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For more information on eating fish from San Francisco Bay click here.

Guide to Eating Fish from the California Coast

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For more information on eating fish from the California Coast click here.

Why should I eat “safe to eat” fish?

Eating these types of fish is good for your health! Fish have omega-3s that can reduce your risk for heart disease and improve brain development in unborn babies and children. Chinook (king) salmon is high in Omega-3s. Fish are an excellent source of protein and are low in saturated fats.

Why should I avoid or eat less of other kinds of fish?

These fish have high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury.  PCBs have been linked to cancer and mercury can harm your unborn baby or child’s brain. Women and children are especially vulnerable to these health risks.

What about mussels and clams from the Pacific Ocean?

You can harvest mussels or clams along the Pacific coastline. Between May and October, mussels and clams from this area can make you very sick, so do not eat mussels or clams from this area during those months. 

Why do some fish have these chemicals and others do not?

Where a fish swims and the food it eats determines how many chemicals may be in its body. Over time, fish who eat other fish and are larger and older will have more chemicals in their body. You can read more about this here.

How does San Mateo County let people know which fish are healthy to eat from the bay and Ocean?

We post Fish Smart signs at fishing locations throughout the County.  We also train local nurses to educate pregnant women and parents.
Email to request fish smart brochures, or let us know where to post a sign.

Do you eat fish caught in San Francisco Bay or the Ocean? Take our survey!

Additional Resources

General information

Shellfish Safety

San Mateo County’s Mussel Sampling Program

Approximately every two weeks Environmental Health Services staff collects mussel and plankton samples along San Mateo County’s coastline as part of the State’s Mussel Sampling Program.

The mussel samples are sent to the California Department of Public Health and tested for unsafe levels of naturally occurring toxic materials known as “biotoxins.” Results are published once a month to keep the public informed on when it’s unsafe to eat mussels and other shellfish.