The decline does not reflect calls from health experts to eat more fish, according to the National Fisheries Institute. "We already know close to 80 percent of Americans are not eating seafood at least twice per week," said Jennifer Wilmes, a registered dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute.
"News of a decline means we are continuing to move further in the wrong direction."
The average American ate 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2007, a slight decline from the 2006 consumption figures of 16.5 pounds, according to a NOAA’s Fisheries Service study.
Barriers to seafood consumption include negative perceptions about taste, affordability, and availability of seafood, according to a recent consumer study headed by the University of Delaware. Of consumers in the general population who heard negative messages about seafood, nearly 60 per cent mentioned mercury.
"Messages that inappropriately scare consumers away from fish because of mercury can do a real disservice to public health," said Wilmes.
"When people eat less seafood, they miss out on a significant, not to mention delicious, disease prevention opportunity."