Assessment of the degree of mercury contamination of marine fish around Bonaire
Many reports indicate that the levels of mercury (Hg) contamination of marine fish in other regions are above the United States Food and Drug Administration safe limit (0.5μg/g). No such studies were conducted on fish in the Dutch Caribbean region. Local fish are significant in the diet of the people of Bonaire. Mercury accumulates through the food web and would be expected to be greatest in the top predators. Four species of fish (wahoo, mahi mahi, black fin tuna and barracuda) that are caught for human consumption and occupy top predator positions within the food web were sampled and analyzed for their degree of contamination with Hg. Mercury concentrations were analyzed using semi-quantitative kits and the results verified by a private analytical lab in South Africa. There were no significant differences between the species. Black fin tuna showed the highest Hg concentrations, wahoo and mahi mahi showed lower levels and barracuda the lowest. These levels compare favorably with data published elsewhere. Uncontrolled illegal gold mining in Brazil and Venezuela contaminates ground and river water with Hg. This ultimately reaches the Atlantic where prevailing currents bring it past the Bonaire region. Bonairean fish's Hg levels are not a concern at present, but this may change with time.