Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund Site – Seafood Consumption Study Summary

The following is a summary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 report entitled, “Seafood Consumption Study” (Seafood Study or Study) that was completed for the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund Site (PV Shelf Site).

The PV Shelf Site is a large (approximately 34 square miles) area of contaminated sediment located approximately 2 miles off the coast of the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, California. Since the 1970s, studies have shown that fish caught between Santa Monica Pier and Seal Beach Pier have elevated levels of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Sediment at PV Shelf is a source of DDT- and PCB-contamination in the area.

The presence of contaminated fish has generated public concern regarding the safety of consuming seafood from the area. In order to accurately assess the potential health risks from eating contaminated seafood, information on anglers’ demographics, seafood consumption rates, seafood preparation and cooking methods, species of seafood caught, fishing preferences, contamination awareness, and more was collected, evaluated, and recommendations were made. The Seafood Study is a follow-up to a similar 1994 study that was conducted by the Santa Monica Restoration Project (now called the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission) and entitled “Santa Monica Bay Seafood Consumption Study.” In the current Study, anglers were interviewed between February 2012 and January 2013 at piers, jetties, private boats, charter boats, beaches, and intertidal zones from Santa Monica to Seal Beach piers (the Study Area). Key findings from the Seafood Study are summarized below; tables and figures are included at the end of this summary.

The demographic and ethnic subgroups of anglers identified included Hispanic (37%); Caucasian (24%); Asian including Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese (24%); African American (6%); and mixed/other ethnic background (9%). The majority of anglers were men (94%) and the age ranged from 14 to 87 years old. The mean angler age is 44 years old. Hispanics are the most abundant ethnic group on piers and jetties, whereas Caucasians are mostly found on charter and private boats. Table 1 presents the population level angler characteristics for the 693 anglers surveyed.

At least 35 species of fish are caught from the study area and consumed by recreational anglers. The most abundant species caught and consumed include Pacific mackerel (27% of anglers), Pacific sardine (21% of anglers), perch (19% of anglers), topsmelt (19% of anglers), California scorpionfish (14% of anglers), and bass species (12% of anglers). Thirty-nine percent of anglers interviewed (270 anglers out of the 693 total anglers interviewed) reported consuming fish from the Study Area within four weeks prior to the survey (Figure 1). Based on the anglers reported seafood consumption rates (fish or fillet size and frequency), the mean fish consumption rate for anglers of all ethnic backgrounds was calculated to be 18.55 grams per individual per day (g/ind/day). For ethnic angler groups, the average values ranged from a low of 20.7 g/ind/day (Hispanics) to a high of 34.4 g/ind/day (African Americans). African American anglers also had high rates of consuming the five Do-Not-Consume (DNC) fish species that are of particular concern. Figure 2 presents the overall percentage of angler awareness of the contamination from outreach messaging. Figure 3 presents the effectiveness of outreach messaging types, indicating that signs are the most effective mode of communicating the health advisory. Figure 4 presents the change in behavior as a result of the health advisories.

The Seafood Study suggests that there has been a shift in the seafood species caught for consumption. In 1994, the most commonly consumed fish were the Pacific bonito (77.5% of anglers), barracuda (74.2% of anglers), and halibut (69.6% of anglers). In the Seafood Study, the most commonly consumed species were mackerel (27%), Pacific sardine (21%), perch (19%) and topsmelt (19%). The preparation methods remained consistent from 1994 to present; the majority of consumers (63% in the current study and 65% in 1994) reported eating the fish as a steak or fillet without the skin. Since the 1994 study, the percent of anglers who are Caucasian has declined from 43% to 24% while the percentage of Hispanic and Asian have increased from 25% to 37% and 18% to 24%, respectively. Despite the population level changes, trends across fishing modes have remained consistent since 1994. Figures 5 and 6 present the change in ethnicity and consumption behavior of anglers from 1994 to 2014.

As determined from the Seafood Study, the ‘average’ (median) daily seafood consumption rate has decreased from approximately 21 grams per individual per day (g/ind/day) in 1994 to approximately 11 g/ind/day) which suggests that EPA’s Program (that includes extensive public educational outreach, enforcement, and monitoring efforts) have been successful in changing angler consumer behaviors and reducing human health exposure to contaminated fish. Also with regard to the most vulnerable or high-end fish consumers, the Study’s calculated Reasonable Maximum Exposure (RME) rate suggest a decreased consumption rate, this value has not changed or declined sufficiently to warrant a revision of the RME value in a human health risk assessment. Of the anglers surveyed, 61% (425 of 693) reported awareness of the advisory warnings disseminated in the past decade, and of those who reported awareness, 42% (175 of 693) reported adopting a more healthy behavior.

While the Institutional Control efforts have been effective in reducing human health risks by minimizing exposures to contaminated fish from PV Shelf, fish continue to exceed protective levels for human consumption as established in EPA’s Interim Record of Decision. Therefore, the Institutional Controls Program and its Educational Outreach component will continue to serve as a major component of EPA’s interim remedy for the study area. The Seafood Consumption Study provided recommendations to improve future public outreach and education efforts for the PV Shelf Site.

To overcome significant language barriers, Fish Contamination Education Collaborative angler and community outreach workers will continue to be recruited that match the diverse ethnic backgrounds of the Southern California angler population. Increased angler and community outreach efforts to the African American community is being implemented as is outreach efforts to the Hispanic community. Out of the five DNC fish species, anglers expressed the highest rate of intended consumption for Barred Sand Bass. Therefore, additional outreach focused on this species may be needed and will be evaluated upon completion of the EPA 2014-2015 PV Shelf fish sampling activity.

While public educational outreach have made a difference in reducing the public health risk of consuming contaminated fish from the PV Shelf Site, there is more to be done. With a greater understanding of angler fishing practices that is detailed in the Seafood Study, EPA and its FCEC partners will more effectively continue to monitor vulnerable populations and implement activities to reach, educate, and ultimately foster healthy fish consumption behaviors in all who consume fish caught from the PV Shelf Site and Study Area.

The complete Seafood Consumption Study can be found at:

Table 1: Population Level Angler Characteristics

A summary of consumption data collected. Most anglers in the study eat between 10-30 g/ind/day of fish.

Outreach is most effective in showing that fish in the PV Shelf Site area contaminated.

Signs are the most effective way residents learn about the PV Shelf site.

Although signs are effective in getting out the message, changing behavior amongst anglers remains a challenge.

The increase in Hispanic anglers between 1994 and 2014 is shown here.

DNC fish are shown in orange. Between 1994 and the 2014 study, the decrease in DNC fish consumption is evident (notably Pacific barracuda).

School’s out for summer, but curious minds never stop for a break! If you need some help keeping those energetic youngsters at bay, we have plenty of fun and educational events for the whole family to attend.

>> Dive into the rich and diverse culture of the Pacific Islands at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Pacific Islander Festival on June 7-8. FCEC will be there providing the latest updates on safe fish to eat, so stop by our booth for the important information and to play our fun fishing game!

>> Join Marina Del Rey Anglers on June 7 for the 39th Annual Marine Del Rey Halibut Derby. All ages are welcome to participate in the oldest and largest halibut derby in Southern California.

>> Celebrate World Oceans Day at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on June 8 with fun-filled arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and workshops.

>> Want to learn more about sustainable living? Check out the Santa Monica Festival on June 14 which will showcase sustainable, family-friendly activities and performances, including art workshops, cooking demonstrations and more. FCEC will be hosting a booth at this event, so stop by to find out about the local healthy fish to eat and the 5 Do Not Consume (DNC) fish.

>> Hop on The Urban Ocean: World Port and Sea Life Cruise and explore the rich Southern California coastline with the friendly folks at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on June 14.

>> Interested in getting up close and personal with some fascinating sea creatures? Partake in Catalina Above and Below on June 21.

For more fun fishing related events, visit our FCEC calendar!


Like most of us, many local Chinese and Vietnamese community members are foodies. They are passionate about what they eat and since fish is a regular part of the Chinese and Vietnamese diet, active partnerships with the Herald Community Center (HCC) and Boat People SOS (BPSOS) have been critical in connecting FCEC’s message with these affected community members.

Although many local Chinese and Vietnamese community members are avid fish lovers, many have never heard of FCEC or about the health risks concerning contaminated fish consumption before HCC and BPSOS provided outreach. In the past, language was a barrier to delivering the Do Not Consume (DNC) message to this audience. Now with the help of HCC and BPSOS, FCEC’s “How to Prepare Fish Safely” video has been viewed by various Chinese and Vietnamese communities to drive the message home. At first, there were mixed feelings regarding the video as community members expressed their acquired preference for preparing fish whole. The “fish won’t taste good…if we take away all the good parts!” voiced a concerned Vietnamese community member.

However, after learning that safe fish properly filleted and then grilled, baked or broiled is a healthier and safer alternative for their family, community members were much more receptive and appreciative of the DNC message. At the workshops, many community members were eager to ask questions and were impressed overall by the research and effort EPA has put forth to protect the public’s health. Many HCC workshop participants even said they were “excited to pass on the message and pass on FCEC’s tip cards to family and friends that go fishing!” Within the last year, HCC and BPSOS have helped FCEC reach over 800 Chinese and Vietnamese community members through informative workshops and distributing tip cards.  HCC even placed an ad highlighting the DNC message in the Herald Monthly, which reaches 40,000 Chinese subscribers monthly.

FCEC would like to thank our partners HCC and BPSOS for another successful year of outreach and helping protect the health of these local communities!

Enjoy some fun in the sun or some late night fishy business at these local community events. They’re sure to go swimmingly for those that are young at heart.

>> Explore and celebrate Southern California’s Coast at the Urban Ocean Festival on May 3 – 4 at the Aquarium of the Pacific. FCEC will be in attendance at this event, so stop by our booth for a one-on-one conversation about the local fish contamination and some fun with our fish identification game!

>> Dare to touch a bamboo shark? Take advantage of this free opportunity hosted by the Aquarium of the Pacific and try your hand at it during Shark Lagoon Nights on May 9, 16, 23 and 30.

>> The ocean contains 97% of the earth’s water. Learn what needs to be done to keep the fish afloat at the Aquarium of the Pacific on May 13. The Prospects of Humankind in the 21st Century: Keys to a Better Future presentation will explore the health of our planet!

>> On May 18 FCEC will be hosting booths at two fish-tacular events! Come visit us at the Sea Fair at King Harbor Yacht Club or the 22nd Annual Seal Day at Marine Mammal Care Center! We would love to share our knowledge on the local healthy fish to eat and the 5 Do Not Consume (DNC) fish with you.

>> Ready for the weekend? Check out Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s  Special Grunion Festival on May 30 to hatch grunion eggs and set those fishies free!

For more fun fishing related events, visit our FCEC calendar!

*Photo courtesy


With spring in full bloom and fish starting to bite, it’s time to join in on the fun, local fishing and community events that are happening all around us. Grab your family and friends and reel them in for a good time this month with these local events:

>> Meet Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s Programs Director for a morning of Fishing with Uncle Larry on April 12. Bring your fishing gear and get free instruction on fishing techniques, etiquette and fish identification.

>> On April 19 start your day with a beach cleanup at Cabrillo Beach, and then celebrate with us at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s Earth Day Fair. FCEC will be hosting a booth at this event where we will be showcasing our fish identification game! Come play and learn how to identify the 5 Do Not Consume (DNC) fish.

>> Make a difference for our marine life by taking a half hour out of your day to participate in a local 30 Minute Beach Cleanup at the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier on April 19.

>> Do you love the largest species of fish? Head down to the Aquarium of the Pacific on April 24 to hear from an experienced diver about his many encounters in Diving with Whale Sharks.

>> The Earth love continues on April 26 – 27 at the Aquarium of the Pacific for a weekend long Earth Day Celebration. FCEC will be at this event too! So come on by, grab some FCEC learning materials and test your fish identification skills by naming some local healthy fish to eat and DNC fish.

>> Discover the shore and sea life in a new way with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium at their Walk Cabrillo guided tour on April 27.

For more fun fishing related events, visit our FCEC calendar!


Due to the diverse nature of the angling community that is affected by the Palos Verdes Superfund Site contamination, it is an ongoing mission to keep local anglers safe from consuming the 5 local contaminated fish species. In order to increase anglers’ awareness of the Do Not Consume (DNC) fish, FCEC implemented a project that focuses on reaching out to local bait shops.

FCEC began conducting outreach to bait shops and retail stores in November 2013, and March 2014 marked the completion of the first round of visits. Stores FCEC targeted ranged from small local bait shops to large retail stores. So far, outreach is off to a great start. As of March 2014, FCEC has educated 102 employees at 81 angler retail and bait shops in 27 cities near the Red Zone. The majority of store owners and employees were supportive of the message and many pledged to keep the DNC fish information readily available to protect their customers’ health. By leveraging the help of local stores and their employees who are often viewed as experts to their angling customers, FCEC is able to relay the Do Not Consume advisory to the targeted angling audience.

During one of our outreach sessions we were pleased to learn that Eileen, an employee at a local bait shop in San Pedro, recognized our tip cards from a previous store that we visited and placed materials. This was great news, because it means our outreach efforts are working!

After placing FCEC Tip Cards in the bait shops, we followed up with the stores. This was when Eileen told us “the cards are all gone. The first time I saw the [FCEC Tip] cards was at another bait shop, and I thought it was a great idea. I think it’s important for people to stay aware of these issues – [especially since] my husband is a fisherman.”

When the FCEC outreach team visited the stores, a generous supply of FCEC Tip Cards were placed near the bait or fishing accessories areas where any angler getting ready to go fishing could take one or a few to pass on to other local anglers.

Following the completed first round of outreach, the FCEC outreach team will continue to conduct follow-ups with these stores throughout the year to ensure they have an adequate supply of FCEC materials for their angling customers.



The fish are swimming strong, so it’s time to catch all the fishing fun! There are plenty of family friendly fishing-related activities that will surely bring out the naturalist in all of us.

>> Grunions are marching onto the beach this month. Start the season off right at Meet the Grunion on March 2 with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and try to catch some of these slippery creatures while you still can.

>> The annual Fred Hall Show is the premier outdoor recreation show. Come out to the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center to learn about the latest in fishing tackle and marine accessories from March 5 – 9. Stop by the Friends of Rollo booth where you will find Marina Del Rey Anglers and FCEC team members collecting pledges to fish responsibly by releasing the 5 local contaminated fish.

>> Are you ready for a trip of a lifetime? If so, join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium from March 6 – 14 on the Friendly Whales of Baja deep sea voyage!

>> It’s never too early to get introduced to marine life. Share the love of fish with your little one on March 15 at the Aquarium of the Pacific for Aqua Tots: Colors of the Ocean.

And if that’s not enough fun, check out the FCEC calendar of events for activities all month long!

*Photo courtesy of BD

Ready to get involved? This month’s activities are packed with exciting opportunities to engage with local community members, learn more about our oceans and participate in beach cleanups!

>> What’s the most amazing place you’ve probably never heard of? Learn where it is and why it’s so special on February 5 at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Experts will discuss Advancing Conservation in the Most Amazing Place You’ve Probably Never Heard Of!

>> Enjoy the many fish of the sea at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Valentine’s Day Late Night & Dinner with a special someone or the whole family on February 14. It’s sure to leave you swooning for more!

>> Interested in making a difference regularly? Connect with community members at Will Rogers State Beach on February 15 for the Nothin’ But Sand beach cleanup. They meet every month!

>> It’s whale watching time! Visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium on February 15-16 for their annual Whale of a Weekend to celebrate the migration of grey whales! FCEC will be at the celebration all weekend long, so stop by to play our fishing game and learn how to identify the 5 Do Not Consume fish!

>> February is African American History month! Join the Aquarium of the Pacific in celebrating the rich cultures of African Americans and Africans at the African American Festival on February 22-23.

>> Concerned about safe fish to eat? Participate in the Sustainable Seafood Solutions: A Panel Discussion on February 27 at Loyola Marymount University.

And if that’s not enough to keep busy, check out the FCEC calendar of events for ways to get involved all month long!

*Photo courtesy Muddy Matches.

Say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. The New Year is finally here! Be prepared to be fully entertained by the fun festivities and excursions we have this month to start the New Year off on the right foot.

>> Ever wonder what it’s like to take care of penguins and lorikeets for a living? Join the Aquarium of the Pacific on January 4 and job shadow a Penguin and Lorikeet Biologist for an eye opening experience.

>> It’s been a wacky winter weather-wise! To learn more about how climate change is affecting the local community, come to the Annenberg Community Beach House to participate in the Forum on Regional Coastal Impact Sea Level Rise on January 7.

>> Did you know that there’s a real castle right here in Los Angeles? Discover where it is by joining The Rubel Castle Excursion on January 17.

>> On January 25-26 celebrate the creative spirit of people with disabilities by attending the Festival of Human Abilities at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

>> If getting fit and having more fun is at the top of your New Year’s Resolution’s list, make sure not to miss Kayak Palos Verdes with REI on January 26.

>> It’s fiesta time! Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is hosting a whale-sized fiesta with games, arts, crafts, exhibits and more. Don’t miss out on this family-friendly event on January 26. FCEC will also be there with our good ol’ fishing game, so be sure to stop by!

>> Lastly, fear sharks no more! Attend the Plight of the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks event at the Aquarium of the Pacific on January 30 and experience what it’s like to dive with these oceanic creatures from real deal shark enthusiasts!

And if that’s not enough fun, check out the FCEC calendar of events for activities all month long!

*Photo courtesy of


What do you do when you have a big appetite for fish? Since nowadays most community members go fishing just for recreation, the market is typically the spot where folks go for their catch of the day. We developed a brochure in collaboration with our partners to widen outreach efforts to the local markets, since we did not have outreach materials tailored specifically for markets and restaurants. Designed to be a brochure and a poster, the main goal of developing the piece was to demonstrate the local fish contamination information in an easy and relatable way. In doing so, the brochure educates the market staff and many community members visiting these markets on a daily basis. The brochure includes information on health risks from eating white croaker which is one of the 5 local Do Not Consume fish, as well as provides clear instructions for market operators to buy only from approved sources and report illegal or suspicious vendors. Audiences have found the material to be easy to understand, engaging and simple. A local market employee was quoted saying the brochure was like “telling a story” as opposed to just plain information.

Currently, the brochure is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. It is distributed by Orange County Health Care Agency, Long Beach Bureau of Environmental Health and California Department of Fish and Wildlife in their market outreach efforts.

Have you seen the FCEC fish market brochure? Click here to check out a digital copy!