An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Consumption rates for specific fish have been developed based on a meal of 1/2 pound of fish (before cooking) eaten by a 150-pound individual. Following these guidelines and spacing your meals of those fish species will limit your health risks by reducing your total exposure.
A sensitive population category exists for women of childbearing age, children 6 years of age or younger, pregnant and nursing women and women who plan to become pregnant.
Risks from eating contaminated fish can be reduced by the following:
Fish consumption advisories are in effect for the following:
Statewide: All Kentucky waters are under an advisory for mercury. Women of childbearing age and children 6 years of age or younger should eat no more than six meals per year of predatory fish, no more than one meal per month of panfish and bottom feeding fish and no more than 1 meal per week of fish in the "other fish" category. The general population should eat no more than one meal per month of predatory fish and no more than one meal per week of panfish and bottom feeding fish. There is no advisory for the general population for fish in the "other fish" category. However, brown trout over 17 inches are more predatory and have the potential to build up higher contaminant levels when compared to smaller brown trout.
Predatory fish include black bass (smallmouth, largemouth and spotted), white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, sauger, saugeye, walleye, muskellunge, flathead and blue catfish, yellow bass, bowfin, chain pickerel and all gars.
Panfish include bluegill, crappie, rock bass as well as green, longear and redear sunfish.
Bottom feeder fish include the bullheads, buffalo species, channel catfish, common carp, redhorse species, shovelnose sturgeon, drum, creek chub as well as the white suckers, spotted suckers, northern hogsuckers and carpsuckers.
Other fish include invasive carp, trout species, minnows, etc.
This is not an emergency, as organic mercury can occur naturally in the environment and does not affect swimmers, skiers or boaters. Fish can accumulate these low levels of mercury by eating plankton and other small aquatic creatures.
In 2021, state officials began testing fish from Kentucky waters to determine the prevalence of PFAS or polyfluoroalkyl substances. These substances are found in non-stick cookware, fire fighting foam, stain resistant carpets and some food packaging and break down slowly in the environment. Based on initial PFAS results, officials recommend following the same consumption guidelines for mercury while consuming fish from Kentucky waters.
Drakes Creek: Fish should not be consumed from dam on W. Fork at Franklin, Ky. downstream to confluence with Barren River. This includes all species and sizes. (PCB)
Fish Lake: Ballard Wildlife Management Area, Fish Lake, is an approximately 30-acre natural lake in Ballard County. This advisory is considered to be lake-wide from the headwaters of the lake to the outflow of Shawnee Creek.
Advisory for Fish Lake:
Fishtrap Lake: Fishtrap Lake is approximately 1,100 acres and impounds the Levisa Fork River in Pike County, KY.
This advisory will include the Levisa Fork River from the KY/VA Stateline to the dam on Fishtrap Lake. A similar fish consumption advisory has been issued by VA for a portion of the Levisa fork river in their state.
Advisory for Fishtrap Lake:
Green River Lake: Green River Lake is approximately 8,210 acres and impounds Robinson Creek and the Green River in Taylor and Adair counties.
Knox Creek: There are approximately 7.8 miles of Knox Creek in Pike County, KY. The headwaters of Knox Creek are located predominantly in Buchanan Co, VA. A similar fish consumption advisory has been issued in VA for their section of this creek.
This fish consumption advisory will include all of Knox Creek from the VA/KY state line to the Tug Fork River.
Advisory for Knox Creek:
Little Bayou Creek: Fish should not be consumed from the section of the creek located in McCracken County. This includes all species and sizes. (PCB)
Metropolis Lake (McCracken County): Fish should not be consumed from Metropolis Lake. This includes all species and sizes. (PCB and Mercury)
Mud River-From Hancock Lake Dam to Wolf Lick Creek:
Mud River-From Wolf Lick Creek to the Green River:
Town Branch (Logan County): Fish should not be consumed from any portion of Town Branch. This includes all species and sizes. (PCB)
Ohio River, bordering Kentucky:
Any fish species not listed in the table below falls under the one meal/week advisory for mercury.
Upper and Middle Reach (Mouth of the Big Sandy River to J. T. Meyers L&D):
Lower Reach (J. T. Meyers L&D to Mouth of Ohio River):