Consumption Guidelines

In fall 2009, Ft Stewart Fish and Wildlife staff sampled fish populations for pollutant contamination.  Fish were collected from two sections of the Canoochee River (above and below the Impact Area), the canal from the sewage treatment plant (at Hwy 144), and ponds 1, 2, and 26 (Map 1).  The fish from the Canoochee River and the ponds were collected by boat electrofishing; those from the canal were collected by seine netting.  All samples were prepared (guidelines provided by University of Georgia {UGA}), and sent to UGA Agriculture and Environmental Services Laboratory for analysis. 

The results were compared to the decision levels used for the “Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia Waters” fish advisory publication (  Though multiple contaminants were tested for, mercury was the limiting factor determining recommendations for fish consumption on Ft Stewart. 

Mercury is a naturally occurring chemical element with high toxicity to humans at low concentrations.    The main source of mercury contamination in fish from Southeast Georgia is thought to be air pollution from industrial smoke stacks to the west.  Mercury does not break down, accumulating in tissues as larger fish consume smaller fish.  This is why larger predator fish generally contain higher concentrations of mercury, and why smaller fish are suggested for consumption. 

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children under the age of 6 should use extra precaution when eating fish.  These groups are more sensitive to the effects of contaminants such as mercury.  The GA Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) guideline decision levels, which are the same that Ft Stewart Fish and Wildlife use, are already designed to protect these sensitive groups.  For most healthy adults, these guidelines may be overly conservative. 

The guidelines are listed as recommended meal frequencies (Table 1).  This is the number of meals of similarly contaminated fish.  The meal frequency categories are: no restriction, 1 meal per week, 1 meal per month, or do not eat.  No fish tested on Ft Stewart were categorized as “do not eat”.  For the purpose of these guidelines, one meal is assumed to range from ¼ to ½ pound (lb) of fish (4 to 8 ounces) for a 150 lb person.  For every 20 lbs more or less than 150, add/subtract 1 ounce.  For a person weighing 130 lbs., a meal is assumed to be 3 to 7 ounces and 5 to 9 ounces for a person weighing 170 lbs. 

The Ft Stewart Canoochee River results were similar to the GA DNR results for the same section of the Canoochee River.  All of Ft Stewart’s results, including these, are similar to other water bodies in SE Georgia.  Knowing the recommended consumption guidelines is a proactive measure that should be considered prior to consuming fish from any location.  Tests on Ft Stewart will be repeated every few years to reassess contamination in order to provide the most up-to-date information for anglers’ health.

Guidelines for Limiting the Fish You Eat from Rivers and Creeks

Rivers / Creeks

No Restrictions

1 Meal Per Week

1 Meal Per Month

Canoochee River  


Redbreast, Bluegill, Redear sunfish


Largemouth bass & Channel catfish

Ogeechee River  


Redbreast sunfish, Channel catfish, 


Largemouth bass

Canal under Hwy 144*

Bluegill, Redbreast, Longear Sunfish





Pineview Lake (Pond1)**

Largemouth Bass

Glissons Pond (Pond 2)**    

Largemouth Bass

Metz Pond (Pond 26)**

Largemouth Bass


* Only bluegill, redbreast, and longear sunfish were tested. 

** Only largemouth bass were tested.