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Removing Sodium Sulfite from Cured Eggs

Fishing Regulations Icon Oregon Fishing

Cured fish eggs have been a popular salmon and steelhead bait for decades. However, a recent study by ODFW and OSU has shown that a common ingredient in some cures – sodium sulfite – can be toxic at some levels when consumed by juvenile salmon and steelhead.

Thanks to the work of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and the egg cure manufacturers, guidelines have been developed for cured egg recipes that reduce sodium sulfites to levels that are much safer for juvenile fish. Many manufacturers are now selling these new formulations.

If you’re making your own cure, we urge you to avoid using sodium sulfite. Borax is a good alternative that does not appear to cause mortality in juvenile salmon.

If you’re buying commercially cured eggs:

  • choose products that are labeled Meets Oregon Guidelines and carefully follow label instructions
  • don’t add additional sodium sulfite to already cured eggs
  • don’t dump unused eggs in the river where they can be eaten by juvenile fish
  • consider the use of net bags to reduce the likelihood of juvenile salmon consuming the eggs.

The effect of sodium sulfite on salmon and steelhead populations has not been determined. However, reducing sodium sulfite from cured eggs is a small step that individual anglers can take to help reduce salmon and steelhead smolt mortality.

For more information and a complete list of certified products that meet Oregon guidelines go to dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/cured_eggs.asp