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Safe-to-Eat Fish from the San Francisco Bay


Fish Smart Program
Promoting Guidelines for Safe-to-Eat Fish from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean

Picture of Fish Smart SF Bay Fishing Guidelines

We are fortunate to have access to fresh seafood 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. Below are guides to help you choose the safest fish for you and your loved ones to consume. You can also sign up for guideline updates

All Languages for San Francisco Bay Guides

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All Languages for California Coast Guides

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Guides to Eating Fish from the San Francisco Bay

For more information about eating fish from the San Francisco Bay, click here.
English | Español | 中文 | Tagalog | tiếng Việt

Guides to Eating Fish from the California Coast

For more information about eating fish from the California Coast click here.
English | Español | 中文 | Tagalog | tiếng Việt

Why Choose “Safe-to-Eat” Fish?

Why eat some fish and not others? Fish are an excellent source of protein and are low in saturated fats. They also contain omega-3s that can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve brain development in children and unborn babies. However, some fish have high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury. PCBs have been linked to cancer and mercury can harm developing children or unborn babies’ brains. Younger women are also vulnerable to these health risks.

How do chemicals build up in fish? Where fish swim and the foods they eat determine how many chemicals may be in their bodies. Over time, predatory fish and fish that are larger and older will have more chemicals in their bodies. You can read more about bioaccumulation and biomagnification here.

How Can the Fishing Community Stay Informed About the Fish Smart Program? 

Environmental Health Services posts Fish Smart signs at fishing locations throughout the county to promote important consumption guidelines of safe-to-eat fish. Know a fishing spot that could use a sign? Email the Fish Smart Program Coordinator, Emilie Dirck, at

Get involved in spreading awareness:

  • Join our email list with guideline updates.
  • Tell us about your fishing habits by taking this survey.
  • Display or hand out flyers at your organization or business. Request flyers in a variety of languages from
  • Sign up for an educational presentation for an adult or youth organization (see next section for details).
  • Request a health care provider training (see next section for details).

Free Demonstrations and Lessons are Available to the Public

We have a dedicated staff member who will present to your health care group or adult or youth organization about the Fish Smart Program and safe-to-eat-fish. You can request an informational 1:1 or group meeting here or email Emilie Dirck, the program coordinator, at to learn more.

What About Shellfish from the Pacific Ocean?

You can harvest mussels along the Pacific coastline during certain seasons. From May until October, mussels along the coast can make you very sick, so do not eat sport-harvested mussels during these months. Learn more by visiting our shellfish safety page or calling the biotoxin hotline at 1-800-553-4133. 

Other types of bivalve shellfish, including oysters, clams, and commercially harvested mussels from certified companies, are not included in the quarantine. Visit the California Department of Public Health’s website for more information. 

Additional Resources

General information

Shellfish Safety

San Mateo County’s Mussel Sampling Program

This page was last updated 5/8/24

IMPORTANT NOTICE: ANNUAL MUSSEL QUARANTINE IS IN EFFECT FROM MAY 1st – OCTOBER 31st. For more information, read California Department of Public Health’s press release

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.