a methodology was developed for converting the activity concentration of radionuclides (bq kg-1) into absorbed dose rate (gy y-1), aiming an approach to environmental radioprotection based on the concept of standard dose limit. the model considers only the internal absorbed dose rate. this methodology was applied to the cubera snapper fish (lutjanus cyanopterus, cuvier, 1828) caught off the coast of ceará. the natural radionuclides considered were uranium-238, radium-226, lead-210, thorium-232 and radium-228. the absorbed dose rates were calculated for individual radionuclides and the type of emitted radiation. the average dose rate due to these radionuclides was 5.36 μgy y-1, a value six orders of magnitude smaller than the threshold value of absorbed dose rate used in this study (3.65 103 mgy y-1), and similar to that found in the literature for benthic fish. ra-226 and u-238 contributed 67% and 22% of the absorbed dose rate, followed by th-232 with 10%. ra-228 and pb-210, in turn, accounted for less than 1% of the absorbed dose rate. this distribution is somewhat different from that reported in the literature, where the ra-226 accounts for 86% of the absorbed dose rate.