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Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program Realignment

Background  |  Timeline   |  Products


The Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program has realized several successes, such as forming the Safe to Eat Workgroup and establishing comprehensive, statewide bioaccumulation monitoring methodologies and assessments that began to answer the question: "Is it safe to eat fish and shellfish from our waters?" since its inception in 2006. However, Safe to Eat Workgroup members and Program staff recognize that the original Program plans were ambitious given the limited resources but addressing two key issues could better achieve the original mission.

First, although data collected by the Program is sufficiently comprehensive to assess bioaccumulative pollutants at a statewide level, the connections, collaboration, and beneficial symbiotic relationships among the Program and other Water Boards Divisions, Regions, and programs are not fully realized. The Program data are valuable as a complementary dataset and help to identify issues for further study; however on their own the data do not consistently and substantially contribute to the protection and restoration of fishing and aquatic life beneficial uses that are impacted by the bioaccumulation of pollutants in California’s waterbodies.

Second, while data have been generated and used to inform health advisories for fish throughout the state, significant data and information gaps remain regarding the question: “Is it safe to eat fish and shellfish from our waters?” A particularly important information gap exists for waterbodies or species that are important for subsistence by traditionally underrepresented communities, as well as Tribal tradition, culture, and subsistence.

Through the realignment efforts described in the Program Realignment Plan, the Program is actively working to ensure bioaccumulation monitoring continues to be aligned with the public’s needs, particularly in areas where communities rely on fishing for consumption, subsistence, sustenance, and cultural purposes.

Program staff will provide regular updates to the Safe to Eat Workgroup and the California Water Quality Monitoring Council as progress is made, and add products below as they are developed through the realignment process.


Successful implementation of this Program realignment requires intentional actions that balance maintaining core aspects of the current statewide and regional program efforts, implementing realignment efforts, and the reality of limited Program and implementation resources (e.g., staff time, funding). To maintain this balance, the realignment will be implemented through a phased approach in each Water Board Region, starting in the Central Coast and San Diego Regions.

Phase 1 was completed in December 2020, Phase II began in January 2021 and will be completed in 2023 (see figure below), and Phase III will be determined based on the experience and lessons learned from Phase II. See the Realignment Implementation section of the Program Realignment Plan for details and specific tasks to be completed in each phase.

Alt text: Timeline of Phase II of the Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program Realignment. From Jan – Mar 2021, a pilot structure will be established. From Apr – Dec 2021, Data and information gaps will be identified, recommendations and associated sampling and analysis plans will be developed. From Apr – Dec 2022, Realignment sampling will be conducted. From Apr – Dec 2023, Data analysis and interpretation will be conducted, and corresponding consumption advice will be developed and communicated. At the end of each year, a debrief of the realignment process (thus far) will be conducted. Community Advisory Committee Meetings will take place around May, Jun, Aug, and Oct 2021, May and Nov 2022, and May and Nov 2023
Timeline of Phase II of the Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program Realignment, which displays the anticipated workflow of the Realignment process. Community Advisory Committee meetings are indicated by blue arrows on the top and bottom of the timeline.

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  Contact Information

For questions about the Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program or the Program Realignment, please email Anna.Holder@waterboards.ca.gov