Mercury was discovered in fish from Virginia’s South River and South Fork Shenandoah River in the 1970s. Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning it may have harmful effects on the human nervous system and may pose a risk to people who are exposed to it in the environment. The most common potential method of exposure is from eating contaminated fish.

Fish consumption advisories have been in place on the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River since the mid-1970s. These advisories provide important information about the amount and types of fish that should not be eaten. The South River Science Team has been working since its inception to ensure the public is aware of these advisories.

Fish Consumption

Eating the fish you catch is safe as long as you follow the advisories.

Fish caught in these waters may contain mercury. Mercury may be hazardous to your health.

South River: No fish other than trout should be eaten from these waters. Stocked trout have been tested and are safe to eat.

South Fork Shenandoah River: No more than two meals (½ pound each or the size of your hand) of fish per month should be eaten from these waters. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children should not eat fish from these waters.

Fish consumption advisories are posted in English and Spanish on billboards at all public access points along the river.

The billboards are located in areas such as Constitution Park and Basic Park in Waynesboro, Grottoes Town Park, Grand Caverns, and Crimora Park. Stop by a billboard near you and learn about the advisories. English and Spanish brochures entitled “Should I Eat the Fish I Catch” are also available for taking at the billboards or for printing on the right. These brochures were distributed to physicians and health clinics in the area and should be used in conjunction with the published fish consumption advisories.

See the interactive map for river access points and advisories. Also visit the South River Recreation page for information about fishing, swimming and boating.