Mercury Concentration in Billfish

The IGFA is now finishing up the second year of the Caribbean Billfish Project (CBP) where ongoing studies are taking place in Grenada and the Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean Billfish Project, implemented through the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC), is a 1.95 million USD project component of the GEF-funded, World Bank implemented, Ocean Partnership for Sustainable Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation Models for Innovation and Reform. Conservation International commissoned a project (outlined below) analyzing mercury concentrations in billfish caught in Grenada and Dominican Republic.

Grenada Researcher

Working with local officials, cooperatives, and fishing groups, CBP field consultants conducted consumption pattern interviews and collected billfish tissue samples from 40 sailfish, 61 blue marlin, and 44 white marlin captured in pilot nation countries. The samples have been transported to Italy where scientists will analyze the relative concentration of mercury.

 

Consultant Teaches locals
CBP Consultant trains locals in Grenada; Photo credit: Gianluigi Negroni

billfish frozen
 

There has been increased awareness over the presence of mercury in pelagic fish, and the related negative health impacts, which has resulted in health advisories and updated standards in some countries. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the mercury bioaccumulation in billfish landed in the WECAFC region could aid project goals by encouraging the consumption of alternative and more sustainable sources of protein.

 

billfish frozen
Domincan Republic; Photo credit: Gianluigi Negroni

 

A draft interim report with results is expected to be published by March 2018.

 

billfish frozen
Domincan Republic; Photo credit: Gianluigi Negroni

 

Grenada boats
Wharf, Grenada; Photo credit: Gianluigi Negroni