USGS Study Demands Cautious Reporting

The U.S. Geological Survey is releasing a study today that “Reveals Mercury Contamination in Fish Nationwide.” And so it appears to be the case. No argument here. Nope. If that’s what their study shows, I have no reason to doubt em.

However it is extremely important to note that USGS did not test commercial seafood. USGS tested fish from “streams across the country.” Reporters who do an ounce of homework will quickly realize the commercial fish we enjoy in restaurants or buy in the grocery store do not come from streams. By in large the seafood Americans find on their plate comes from the ocean and or various types of aquaculture.

Reporters who suggest that this study in any way represents a health hazard for normal consumption of commercial seafood are either particularly unskilled at their craft (understanding and synthesizing accurate information) or are distorting the facts.

For those who rely on subsistence fishing or those who enjoy recreational fishing the report appears to highlight the need to check with local and regional fish advisories. But this is not a study that should have consumers in any way concerned about the commercial fish they regularly enjoy.

Least we forget it was in May that USGS released a widely reported on study about an apparent increase in mercury levels in the North Pacific that quickly became one of, if not the most misreported seafood stories of the year based simply on the fact that the report was not a study about seafood– in fact it didn’t even examine any seafood as part of its work– but journalists printed misinformed sound bite science from agenda drive sources that claimed USGS had found increased levels of mercury in commercial seafood.

I’ve already been contacted by one reporter this morning who, it would appear, was doing her homework-we’ll see how the rest of the day plays out.