Anthropogenic activities influence the biogeochemical cycles of mercury, both qualitatively and quantitatively, on a global scale from sources to sinks. Anthropogenic processes that alter the temporal and spatial patterns of sources and cycling processes are changing the impacts of mercury contamination on aquatic biota and humans. Human exposure to mercury is dominated by the consumption of fish and products from aquaculture operations. The risk to society and to ecosystems from mercury contamination is growing, and it is important to monitor these expanding risks. However, the extent and manner to which anthropogenic activities will alter mercury sources and biogeochemical cycling in tropical and sub-tropical coastal environments is poorly understood. Factors as (1) lack of reliable local/regional data; (2) rapidly changing environmental conditions; (3) governmental priorities and; (4) technical actions from supra-national institutions, are some of the obstacles to overcome in mercury cycling research and policy formulation. In the tropics and sub-tropics, research on mercury in the environment is moving from an exploratory "inventory" phase towards more process-oriented studies. Addressing biodiversity conservation and human health issues related to mercury contamination of river basins and tropical coastal environments are an integral part of paragraph 221 of the United Nations document "The Future We Want" issued in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.