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

Toxic shellfish warning extended along coastline 31 December 2014

Bay of Plenty/Coromandel Shellfish Toxin update – Warning extended past Tairua Harbour and now includes Mercury bay up to and including Opito Bay.

Following ongoing shellfish toxin monitoring the Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin warning has been extended.

The initial health warning was issued on 28th November 2014 advising against the collection of shellfish from Mount Maunganui and along the Bay of Plenty coast to Whakatane Heads in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. 

The affected area now includes the entire coastline from Mercury Bay (including Opito Bay), east along the Bay of Plenty coastline, including Tairua, Whangamata, Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, to Whakatane Heads.  Also included in the warning are 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 will be communicated accordingly.

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

South Island

Extension of Onapua/Opua Bay Shellfish Warning to all of Tory Channel 23 December 2014

Further to the warning issued on 17 December, testing of shellfish has shown that the toxin that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) has now been detected at low levels in shellfish taken from Tory Channel. This toxin arises from a phytoplankton called Alexandrium catenella.

The potentially affected area is all of Tory Channel (see map below).

 It is likely that the area affected may expand further into Queen Charlotte Sound in the next few weeks.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)

  • 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
  • Acute symptoms of PSP usually occur within 12 hours of eating shellfish

Do not eat kina, mussels, pipi, tuatua, oysters and cockles harvested from the affected area.

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 the situation is ongoing, and in the meantime people should not take or consume shellfish from these areas.

People who want more information about the safety of shellfish in their possession should contact the On Call Health Protection Officer on (03) 520 9999 Blenheim or (03) 546 1800 Nelson. People who become ill after eating shellfish should seek medical attention.

Toxic Shellfish Areas


Date of notice 23 December 2014

DO NOT CONSUME SHELLFISH FROM THE AREA OUTLINED ON THIS MAP

This Area Is Affected By Shellfish Biotoxins.

  • DO NOT CONSUME SHELLFISH FROM THE AREA OUTLINED ON THIS MAP
  • This Area Is Affected By Shellfish Biotoxins.
  • Shellfish Consumed From This Area May Be Harmful To Health.
  • Crayfish, Crab, Paua and Finfish may be consumed if the gut is removed.
  • Only the white muscle of Scallops may be consumed

Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service
Blenheim (03) 520 9914 or Nelson (03) 546 1537 (During Work Hours)

After Hours – Contact The On-Call Health Protection Officer: Blenheim (03) 520 9999 Or Nelson (03) 546 1800

Public health unit contacts