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At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-American Shad


The silvery American shad spends most of its time at sea but returns to freshwater streams to breed, where it is usually caught. It grows to 2.5 feet (76 cm) and may live to 11 years.

Commercial Sources

American shad are native to the freshwater and marine environments of eastern North America, from Nova Scotia, Canada, to central Florida. However, because they have been introduced into the Pacific coast, their distribution includes a region from Alaska to Baja California in Mexico, and the Kamchatka Peninsula in East Asia.

The main sources of American shad are United States.

Capture Methods

American shad come from coastal fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with gillnets. Additional types of fishing gear include trawls, nets and traps.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
American Shad Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Eco details: 
  • Once abundant, shad populations are at all-time lows across the Atlantic seaboard and show no signs of recovering.
  • The main culprits for the decline are overfishing, pollution and habitat loss due to dam construction.
  • Fishing for shad was banned in the Chesapeake Bay in 1994, and most other shad fisheries ceased in 2005.