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 area extended - 7 July 2015

Toxic shellfish warning area revised

Following ongoing shellfish toxin monitoring along the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel coast, the Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin warning has been extended. The warning now extends from the northern end of Pukehina to the mouth of the Otahu River at the southern end of Whangamata Beach.

The Medical Officer of Health advises against gathering or eating shellfish from the Otahu River, along the Bay of Plenty coastline to Rogers Road, Pukehina. The warning includes Tauranga Harbour, the Maketu and Waihi estuaries, Matakana and Motiti Islands, and all other islands along this coastline.

The health warning applies to all bi-valve shellfish including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops as well as cat’s eyes, snails and kina (sea urchin).  Shellfish containing toxic levels of paralytic shellfish poison don't look or taste any different from shellfish that are safe to eat. Cooking or freezing the shellfish does not remove the toxin.  Paua, crayfish and crabs can still be taken but as always, the gut should be removed before cooking or eating.

Eating shellfish affected by paralytic shellfish toxin can cause numbness and tingling around the mouth, face, hands and feet; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision; and in severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure.  These symptoms can start as soon as 1-2 hours after eating toxic shellfish and usually within 12 hours.  Anyone suffering illness after eating shellfish should seek urgent medical attention.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue along the coast and any changes in advice will be communicated accordingly.  The public can obtain up-to-date information on the toxic shellfish health warning through these channels:


  • Phone: 0800 800 977 Waikato
  • Website:
  • Signage at locations (i.e. shellfish health warning signs at affected beaches)

Health Warning: Toxic Shellfish on Northern Hawke’s Bay Coastline

Still valid as of 7 July 2015

Hawke's Bay District Health Board advises that shellfish along the Hawke’s Bay coastline between Whareongaonga (approximately 22 kilometres north of Mahia) and Mohaka River should not be eaten due to dangerous levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin.

The Ministry for Primary Industries latest shellfish sample from Opoutama Beach taken last week has returned with a PSP Toxin level of 1.2 milligrams of toxin per kilogram of shellfish flesh. This is over the Ministry of Primary Industries safe health limit of 0.8 milligrams of toxin per kg.

Kina, mussels, toheroa, pipis, tuatua, oysters and cockles in closed area should not be eaten;

Paua, crab, and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process;

Cooking affected shellfish does not remove the toxin;

Fish, such as snapper, gurnard, and terakihi are not affected by the algae and are still safe to eat.

Anyone eating toxic shellfish in closed areas could be at risk of serious illness. Symptoms of PSP can occur within 12 hours of eating affected seafood and can include:

  • Numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities first.
  • Difficulty swallowing, or breathing.
  • Headache, dizziness, and double vision.
  • Severe cases may suffer respiratory arrest resulting in death if medical treatment is not immediately available.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from any area they should contact a doctor immediately and also advise the public health unit on (06) 878 1329. The public health unit has sent information to doctors, community groups and other authorities in the region.

Warning signs in the extended closure area are presently being erected at main shellfish collection and boat launching sites.

Anyone wanting further information can phone the Hawke's Bay District Health Board's Toxic Shellfish Information Line on (06) 878-1329. There is a pre-recorded message giving the latest sampling results, the status of the closure, and a facility for people to leave their contact details and a message if required.

Further sampling is being undertaken by the Ministry of Primary Industries. Information on the closure will be posted and updated on Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s web site in the Public Health Unit’s area of the site.

For further information please contact:

Grant Harding |Media and Public Relations Advisor

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board
Private Bag 9014, Hastings 4156
DDI 06 878 8109 ext 4668 F: ++ 64 6 878 1648 | M: 027 5229960

South Island

No closures in place as of 10 March 2015.