ICF International's Tom Myers contributed to this special issue appearing in Environmental Research: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Environmental Sciences, Ecology, and Public Health.
Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) fisheries account for 41 percent of the U.S. marine recreational fish catch and 16 percent of marine commercial fish landings. Mercury (Hg) concentrations are elevated in some fish species in the Gulf, including king mackerel, sharks, and tilefish. All five Gulf states have fish consumption advisories based on Hg. Per-capita fish consumption in the Gulf region is elevated compared to the U.S. national average, and recreational fishers in the region have a potential for greater MeHg exposure due to higher levels of fish consumption. Atmospheric wet Hg deposition is estimated to be higher in the Gulf region compared to most other areas in the United States, but the largest source of Hg to the Gulf as a whole is the Atlantic Ocean (490 percent) via large flows associated with the Loop Current.
Redistribution of atmospheric, Atlantic, and terrestrial Hg inputs to the Gulf occurs via large-scale water circulation patterns, and further work is needed to refine estimates of the relative importance of these Hg sources in terms of contributing to fish Hg levels in different regions of the Gulf. Measurements are needed to better quantify external loads, in-situ concentrations, and fluxes of total Hg and methylmercury in the water column, sediments, and food web.