Marine biotoxin alerts.

Shellfish and seawater samples around New Zealand are tested each week to ensure they are not contaminated with biotoxin from blooms of algae. Public warnings are issued when shellfish are not safe to eat. This page contains information relating to the non-commercial (recreational and traditional) taking of shellfish only.

This page is updated as soon as new information comes to hand. All the warnings on this page are current and remain in force.

Marine biotoxin warnings currently in force

North Island

Bay of Plenty/Coromandel Shellfish Toxin update – Warning removed from Opito Bay and Whitianga Harbour- From  11 Feb 2015

Following ongoing shellfish toxin monitoring the Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin warning for Coromandel East coast, has been removed from Opito Bay and Whitianga Harbour. 

From 11 February 2015, the affected area is now the entire coastline from Tairua Harbour, east along the Bay of Plenty coastline, to Whakatane. This includes Pauanui, Opoutere, Onemana, Whangamata, Whiritoa, Waihi Beach and estuaries, Tauranga Harbour, Mount Maunganui, Papamoa, Maketu, and Whakatane Heads. Also included in the warning are Slipper, Matakana, and Motiti islands, and all other inshore islands along this coastline.

The health warning applies to all bi-valve shellfish including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops, as well as catseyes, and kina (sea urchin). Shellfish in the affected area should not be taken or consumed.  Paua, crayfish, and crabs can still be taken but as always, the gut should be removed before cooking.

Consumption of shellfish affected by the paralytic shellfish toxin can cause numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision; and in severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure. These symptoms usually occur within 12 hours of a person consuming affected shellfish. Anyone suffering illness after eating shellfish should seek medical attention.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue along the coast and any changes to the warning area will be communicated accordingly.

Up-to-date information on the toxic shellfish health warning can be found through these channels:

South Island

Tory Channel Closure- still valid as of 13th Feb 2015

Shellfish Health Warning Remains in Place

The health warning initially issued on 23 December 2014 will remain in place for Tory Channel after levels of the toxic Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) continue at dangerous levels in shellfish and can cause severe illness.

Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health Dr Ed Kiddle said, “Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning are numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision. In severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure can occur.”

He said acute symptoms of PSP usually occur within 12 hours of eating shellfish and people who become ill after eating shellfish should seek medical attention and he warned people to not eat kina, mussels, pipi, tuatua, oysters and cockles harvested from the affected area.

He said paua, crab, and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut is completely removed prior to cooking. (If the gut was not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.) Only the white muscle of the scallops may be eaten.

Cooking or freezing affected shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Fish, such as snapper, cod, gurnard, and terakihi are not affected by the toxin and are still safe to eat if the gut is removed.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue for Tory Channel and any changes will be communicated accordingly.

People who want more information can contact the On Call Health Protection Officer on (03) 520 9999 Blenheim or (03) 546 1800 Nelson.

Toxic Shellfish Areas