Trace element concentrations in harvested auks from Newfoundland: toxicological risk of a non-indigenous subsistence hunt

Alexander L. Bond, Gregory J. Robertson, Jennifer L. Lavers, Keith A. Hobson, Pierre C. Ryan

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 115: 1-6 (2015)

Common (Uria aalge) and Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia) are apex predators in the North Atlantic Ocean, and are also subject to a traditional hunt in Newfoundland and Labrador during the winter months, along with small numbers of illegally harvested Razorbills (Alca torda). Because of their high trophic position, auks are at risk from high contaminant burdens that bioaccumulate and biomagnify, and could therefore pose a toxicological risk to human consumers. We analysed trace element concentrations from breast muscle of 51 auks collected off Newfoundland in the 2011–2012 hunting season. There were few differences in contaminant concentrations among species. In total, 14 (27%) exceeded Health Canada or international guidelines for arsenic, lead, or cadmium; none exceeded guidelines for mercury. Cadmium concentrations >0.05 μg/g have persisted in Newfoundland murres for the last 25 years. We urge the integration of this consumptive harvest for high-trophic marine predators into periodic human health risk assessments