Fish Consumption Warnings

Willamette River Health Advisory

The advisory affects bass, carp, brown bullhead, black crappie and all other resident fish, as well as crayfish, clams and mussels found within the Lower Willamette River. 

Brown Bullhead









April 11, 2018

The Oregon Health Authority is updating an existing health advisory issued June 2004 for resident fish in the Portland Harbor area of the Lower Willamette River.

The advisory effectively expands the 2004 advisory for two reasons:

  • Fish and shellfish tissue data made available to OHA shows the level of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, found in resident species of the Lower Willamette River warrants updating meal recommendations.
  • Additional fish tissue data collected outside the Portland Harbor study area warrants expanding the boundary of the fish advisory.

The boundary now encompasses the Lower Willamette River from the Sellwood Bridge to its confluence with the Columbia, to include Multnomah Channel from its confluence with the Willamette to the Sauvie Island Bridge. The original advisory covered only the Portland Harbor study area from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Fremont Bridge.

The advisory affects bass, carp, brown bullhead, black crappie and all other resident fish, as well as crayfish, clams and mussels found within the Lower Willamette River. It is illegal for non-tribal members to harvest or possess any freshwater mussels or clams, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and non-tribal members who harvest or possess these shellfish can be subject to a fine by the Oregon State Police. Meal recommendations in this advisory for clams and mussels are provided for tribal use, and in the event these shellfish are harvested or possessed illegally.


“Our iconic salmon, steelhead and other migratory fish are fine,” said David Farrer, Ph.D., public health toxicologist at the OHA Public Health Division’s Environmental Public Health Section. “People still need to eat at least two meals of fish per week. We want people to know which fish are the healthiest to eat and which fish they need to be careful about.”

Meal Recommendations For Resident Fish

People who eat too much resident fish and shellfish contaminated with PCBs can suffer negative health effects over time, such as damage to organs, the nervous system and the brain, leading to potential learning and behavior problems. Mothers can pass PCBs to their babies during pregnancy or in breast milk, so fetuses, babies and small children are most vulnerable to the health effects of PCBs. OHA recommends that pregnant and nursing women, and women of childbearing age (18 to 45) follow these meal recommendations closely. 

Meal Recommendation Chart