presents poster at scientific conference about high mercury seafood

By April 14, 2011Got Mercury? presents poster at scientific conference

San Diego, CA- presented a scientific poster at the International Sea Turtle Symposium (ISTS) on the connection between high-mercury seafood and protection of endangered sea turtles. Titled “Protecting Sea Turtles Though Public Health Advocacy”, the poster outlines the 2010 Operation Safe Seafood testing project which tested 145 samples of swordfish and tuna from grocery stores across the United States. The ISTS is currently being held in San Diego, CA. Eighteen samples of the Operation Safe Seafood project were from San Diego area grocery stores.

“It is an honor to present mercury in seafood information to sea turtle advocates, scientists, and students at the Symposium”, said Buffy Martin Tarbox, Campaign Coordinator. “By choosing to not eat high-mercury seafood such as tuna and swordfish, people are protecting their own health and helping to reduce sea turtle mortality.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the number one source of mercury exposure in the U.S. is from eating contaminated seafood. Swordfish and many types of tuna species contain hazardous levels of mercury, yet the United States government has failed to take action and still allows high mercury seafood to be caught and sold and does not require mercury advisory signs to be posted. Unsuspecting fish eaters are purchasing high-mercury swordfish and tuna at supermarkets, putting their health at risk and unknowingly contributing to sea turtle mortality.

One of the largest threats to sea turtles worldwide is industrial long-line fishing, which targets large predatory swordfish and many tuna species. Swordfish and tuna also contain high amounts of mercury. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of swordfish and tuna, thousands of sea turtles perish as incidental bycatch. tested 145 samples of swordfish and tuna for mercury levels, all purchased at grocery stores, supermarkets and local fish markets from across the United States. Each sample was analyzed by an accredited laboratory. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a mercury action level of 1 parts per million (ppm), yet nearly 40 percent of the samples included in Operation Safe Seafood were well above the 1 ppm, putting women and children at risk for health problems associated with mercury exposure.

By informing fish eaters the dangers of toxic levels of mercury in swordfish and tuna, the project is protecting the health of mothers and children while also indirectly reducing the demand for fish species caught by industrial long-line fleets and helping sea turtles to thrive in their natural habitat.

To see a copy of the poster please click here