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How to Prepare Fish Caught in the Columbia Slough

A red graphic with an image of a fork and knife with a "do not" symbol over a fork and knife to the very left of the image, and an image of a trashcan with a fish head, tail, and guts over it with down arrows between the items and the can. In the center of the image is the following text in black font, "Do not eat. Throw away head, skin, tail, guts, and fats. Fats have more pollutants."

To reduce the amount of contaminants you eat when you eat fish from the Columbia Slough:

  • Eat smaller, younger fish.
  • Know where the fish you are eating is from.
  • Eat a variety of fish that are low in contaminants.
  • Be familiar with healthy fish guides when choosing seafood at the store or restaurant.
  • Limit the amount of fish from the Slough that you eat. For nearly all Columbia Slough fish, eat only 1 fillet meal per month. A meal is about the size and thickness of a person’s hand or approximately the size of two decks of cards.

What is a meal?

A graphic with a purple border and the following text at the top, "Your meal size depends on your size." To the left of the image are a series of graphics of fillets. The text reads, "Meal size = 8 ounce fillet, or size and thickness of a hand, or size and thickness of 2 decks of cards." To the right are simple images of two people, one larger adult with "8 ounces" above them and "160 pounds" below. The smaller person reads, "4 ounces" above and "80 pounds" below.

A meal is about the size and thickness of your hand—about 1 ounce of uncooked fish for every 20 pounds of body weight. 

  • For a 160-pound adult, a meal size is 8 ounces.
  • For an 80-pound child, a meal size is about 4 ounces.

How should I prepare the fish to reduce my health risk?

PCBs and pesticides are stored in the fat of the fish. By removing the fat when you prepare and cook the fish, you can reduce the amount of those contaminants in the fish by up to 50 percent. 

A diagram of a cut away of the backside of a fish with the following instructions listed, "remove skin; cut away the fat along the back; cut away the fatty area along the side of the fish; trim off the belly fat."

When eating fish from the Slough, follow these steps:

  • Cut off and throw away the head, skin, guts (including liver), back and belly fat.
    Pollutants are stored in these parts.
  • Eat only fish fillets.
  • Bake, broil, grill, or steam the fillets (without skin or fat) and allow the fat to drip off.
  • Avoid eating the skin and fat on fish.
  • Do not eat raw fish from the Slough.
  • Do not eat or cook with the fat drippings or use them to make sauces.
  • Do not reuse drippings or oil used for cooking.

Guides: How to prepare fish to reduce health risks

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