Mercury content in commercial pelagic fish and its risk assessment in the Western Indian Ocean

As top predators of pelagic food webs, large fish naturally bioaccumulate mercury (Hg). Determining Hg burdens in commercialized fish is essential considering the concern about effects of contaminants on human health and the legal thresholds that are therefore set for local consumption and/or exportation. Total Hg levels were measured in the muscular tissue of 183 fish of five commercially important species from the tropical zone of the Western Indian Ocean. All individuals were measured and sexed in order to study the impregnation of Hg with size and sex within each species. Values of Hg found in this part of the Indian Ocean were comparable to Hg in muscular tissue of the same species studied in other areas. The highest Hg levels were noted in Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) caught in waters surrounding Reunion Island (3.97 +/- 2.67 mu g g(-1) dry weight). Following the Swordfish, in decreasing order of Hg content, were the Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) and the Skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), then the Common Dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) and the Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri). In the North of the Mozambique Channel, Swordfish had higher Hg levels than Yellowfin Tunas, and Dolphinfish exhibited intermediate Hg levels. The size of a fish was a determining factor of its Hg burden, as was the species. Differences in size-normalized Hg levels were observed between the two study zones for Swordfish and Common Dolphinfish. Sex, in contrast, did not influence Hg levels suggesting that females and males have similar feeding habits. The muscular Hg levels presented here suggest that consumers of fish originating from the Western Indian Ocean should limit themselves to one Swordfish based meal per week, or one fish meal a day if they choose to eat tuna or Common Dolphinfish. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Health standards, Mozambique channel, Reunion Island, Pelagic fish, Impregnation levels, Mercury

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Kojadinovic Jessica, Potier M, Le Corre M, Cosson R, Bustamante Paco (2006). Mercury content in commercial pelagic fish and its risk assessment in the Western Indian Ocean. The Science of The Total Environment. 366 (2-3). 688-700.,

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