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Safe-to-Eat Fish from the San Francisco Bay


Safe-to-Eat Fish from the San Francisco Bay

We’re lucky to be able to eat fresh fish from the San Francisco Bay. Many fish in the bay 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.

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 likely cause cancer. 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 in 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?

We post Fish Smart signs at fishing locations throughout the County.  We also train nurses who work with pregnant women and parents.

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

Additional Resources

General information

Shellfish Safety

Mussel Quarantine in Effect: May 1 – October 31, 2017

For the latest quarantine and health advisory updates by the California Department of Public Health’s Marine Toxin Program, please call 1-800-553-4133 or click here.