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.

North Island

No warnings in force

South Island

Port Underwood Algal Bloom 22/10/2014

Routine testing of shellfish in Port Underwood has shown the presence of the toxin that can cause Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP). The presence of this toxin means that eating shellfish could cause severe illness.

The area affected is all of inner Port Underwood.

Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health Dr Ed Kiddle said “symptoms of this toxin were gut symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. They usually occur quickly within 1 hour or so but can be up to 12 hrs after eating shellfish”.

He advised people not to eat kina, mussels, pipi, tuatua, oysters and cockles harvested from affected areas since October 20, 2014.

“Scallops, paua, crab, and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut was completely removed prior to cooking. If the gut was not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process,” he said.

“Cooking affected shellfish does not remove the toxin.” Fish, such as snapper, cod, gurnard, and tarakihi were not affected by the toxin algae and are still safe to eat.

DSP group toxins are produced by a variety of phytoplankton species, mainly of the Dinophysis genus.

The affected area (shown on the attached map) is all of inner Port Underwood west of a line drawn from Robertson Point.

Continued monitoring of the situation is planned, but in the meantime people should not take shellfish from this area.

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.

Public health unit contacts