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

Shellfish ban lifted in Port Underwood- 14 November 2014

The public has been given the all clear to collect shellfish in the Port Underwood.

Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ed Kiddle, said that two consecutive shellfish tests taken from Port Underwood were clear, with no Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxin detected in the shellfish.

“Although the algae bloom responsible for the toxin had been declining during November, it has taken several weeks for the toxin to be flushed from the shellfish. This particular bloom was sufficient to contaminate shellfish in the Port Underwood area, giving rise to a closure on 22 October 2014.”

Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) a marine biotoxin can cause gut symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Symptoms usually occur within 1 hour or so but can be up to 12 hours after eating shellfish and are of short duration. DSP group toxins are produced by a variety of phytoplankton species, mainly of the Dinophysis genus.

Monitoring for marine biotoxins continues on a regular basis in all shellfish gathering areas around New Zealand.  Signs put up to inform people of the closure will be removed over the next few days.

Dr Kiddle reminded people to only take shellfish from clean water and never take shellfish after rain or when the water is dirty. He said certain areas such as estuaries near urban settlements were never suitable for taking shellfish for eating.

“Also remember to refrigerate your shellfish as soon as possible,” he said.

Public health unit contacts