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Ministry of Health Warns Fish Consumers

A recent mercury test conducted by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Department of Environment and the Belize Electric Company has led to the cautioning of fish consumers particularly in the west.  The testing was done on 12 types of fish taken from the Macal River.  Of those twelve species, fifty percent of them had mercury levels above the recommended level of point five milligram per kilogram and of that fifty percent, only three of the twelve species are normally consumed by persons in the area.  Those include Bay Snook, Baca and Botasi.  The Botasi fish was found with the highest mercury levels followed by the Bay Snook that had one point forty four milligrams per kilograms of mercury.  The levels of mercury in both the Bay Snook and the Botasi had three times the recommended levels of mercury.  While the Baca species was found with elevated levels, it was at a minimal.  According to a caution from the Ministry of Health, the increase in mercury levels of the Bay Snook, an individual with one hundred and seventy five pounds or more should only eat a little over half ounce per week.  As a precaution, the Ministry of Health is recommending that the Bay Snook or Botasi fish from the Macal River not be consumed until further notice.  The Baca fish can be eaten but it is recommended that only two point five six ounces be consumed weekly.   Proceeding to consume the Bay Snook or Botasi fish can lead to possible mental retardation in children, poor development of infants, vision impairment, nervousness, weakening of muscles in the hand and feet.