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Fish consumption recommendations

Recommendations according to Canada’s Food Guide

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. This recommendation applies to several types of foods, including protein foods. Fish and seafood are examples of protein foods that can be eaten as part of a healthy diet.

Canada’s Food Guide also suggests choosing foods that contain healthy fats, in particular fatty fish. For example:

  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel

To make sure you get the best nutritional value from fish, choose fresh or frozen fish or seafood that has not been fried or breaded. Canned fish with little or no added salt is also a good choice. Use low-fat cooking methods such as poaching, grilling or baking.

Eating two servings of fatty fish a week provides the equivalent of 300 to 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids a day. This is the amount recommended by the World Health Organization.

Omega-3 fatty acid content of some species of fish and seafood


Omega-3 fatty acid content
(in milligrams per serving)

Source: Data taken from the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) (Health Canada) This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Atlantic mackerel


Atlantic salmon, farmed


Atlantic salmon, wild


Smoked Atlantic herring, raw




Sardine, canned


Sockeye salmon, canned


Greenland halibut (turbot)


Rainbow trout, farmed


Rainbow trout, wild


Smelt (rainbow smelt)




Mussel (blue mussel), raw


Oyster (common oyster), raw






Northern pike


Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp, cooked




Plaice (sole)


Light tuna, canned in water






American lobster, cooked


Recommendations that take into account the presence of methylmercury in fish

Fish and seafood that can be eaten in unlimited amounts

The following fishes and seafood contain very little mercury. They can be eaten in unlimited amounts.

Species of fish and seafood that can be eaten in unlimited amounts

  • Game fish
    • American shad
    • Smelt (rainbow smelt)
    • Lake whitefish
    • Brook trout (speckled trout)
    • Other types of trout (except lake trout)
    • Atlantic tomcod
    • Atlantic salmon
  • Marine fish
    • Haddock
    • Anchovy
    • Capelin
    • Pollock
    • Herring
    • Atlantic mackerel
    • Hake
    • Plaice (sole)
    • Sardine
    • Salmon
    • Redfish
    • Tuna (canned)
  • Molluscs
    • Oyster
    • Mussel
    • Clam
    • Scallop
  • Crustaceans
    • Crab
    • Shrimp
    • Lobster
  • Farmed fish
    • Salmon
    • Tilapia
    • Trout
    • Other farmed fish

Fish that should be eaten in limited amounts

Consumption of some types of fish is restricted because of their mercury content. They can be eaten but in limited amounts. Make sure you only eat the amounts shown in the table. These recommended maximum amounts apply to people who eat fish frequently and regularly. They are valid in most cases unless advised otherwise by public health or environment authorities.

Species of fish that should be eaten in limited amounts and recommended maximum amounts


Mercury content

Recommended maximum amount

(1 serving = 90 g before cooking)

Game fish:

  • Bullhead
  • Sunfish
  • Sturgeon
  • Burbot
  • Chub
  • Perch


230 g a week

(2.5 servings)

Large marine fish:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Fresh or frozen tuna (including bluefin tuna)


180 g a week

(2 servings)

Game fish:

  • Bass
  • Pike
  • Walleye
  • Muskellunge
  • Lake trout


115 g a week

(about 1 serving)

Eating game fish

If you eat game fish regularly, you can consult the MELCC’s Guide de consommation du poisson de pêche sportive en eau douce This hyperlink will open in a new window. [Guide to eating freshwater game fish; available in French only]. This very detailed guide shows recommended maximum amounts based on fish species, size and fishing site.

Precautions when preparing wild fish

Wild fish may contain various contaminants and parasites. To reduce the risk of contamination, it is recommended to follow these precautions:

  • eviscerate fish as soon as possible after their death, or after registration for salmon;
  • keep only the fillets that are free of the skin and the base of the fins. These parts are less likely to contain contaminants;
  • avoid using cooking juices to prepare other foods such as soups and sauces;
  • avoid eating highly infested fish. When preparing fish, manually remove all visible larvae;
  • avoid eating fish with abnormalities such as tumours and various malformations;
  • cook or smoke fish properly before eating (fish should have an internal temperature of at least 70°C);
  • freeze fish at -20°C for at least seven days if you want to eat it raw. Be careful: not all domestic freezers can meet these conditions.

Pets may also be affected. Thus, wild fish waste should never be given to them unless it has been properly cooked or frozen beforehand.

Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, breastfeeding women and young children

The following recommendations apply to women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, breastfeeding women and young children:

  • Do not eat species of wild fish that are most likely to be contaminated frequently. It’s preferable to choose fish and seafood that can be eaten in unlimited amounts.
  • Do not eat raw or partially cooked fish or seafood. Thorough cooking prevents diseases caused by certain microbes or parasites these foods may be contaminated with.
  • Limit the amount of canned albacore tuna (white tuna) (not to be confused with canned light tuna, which can be eaten in unlimited amounts) to no more than:
    • 300 g a week for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding
    • 150 g a week for children age 5 to 11
    • 75 g a week for children age 1 to 4
  • Limit the amount of fresh or frozen tuna (including bluefin tuna), shark, swordfish, orange roughy and marlin to no more than:
    • 150 g a month for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding
    • 125 g a month for children age 5 to 11
    • 75 g a month for children age 1 to 4

Last update: January 28, 2021


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