It’s been a good summer for bluefish. Coinciding with the New York Times‘ recent fetish for the fish, scientists are announcing that it’s safer to eat than it has been in four decades.
Mercury levels in adult bluefish off the North Carolina coast have dropped 43% since 1972, according to a new study in Environmental Science & Technology. This is, as Scientific American notes, not just good news for the bluefish, but “for the entire predator fish population in the Mid-Atlantic.” (Other predatory fish in the region include favorites like tuna and swordfish.)
And of course, it’s great news for seafood lovers, too.
The scientists’ hypothesis for the drop in mercury in the fish is simple: Measures taken to reduce the use of coal—a primary contributor to mercury in the environment—have worked, resulting in less mercury ending up in the ocean. Coal consumption in the US dropped 23% between 2008 and 2012 alone, and 34% in Canada in the same period, the researchers note. These kinds of reductions, they say, could lead to lower mercury levels in other fish as well, “unless such reductions are overwhelmed by a continued increase in mercury emissions from Asia.”
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