Coastal areas closed to shellfishing

Monday November 14, 2011

​The coastline from Amberley to Birdlings Flat in Canterbury is closed to shellfishing after harmful toxins were detected in shellfish monitored in the area. 

The Community and Public Health Division of Canterbury District Health Board has issued the closure following test results revealed Diarrehetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins are above the health safety limit.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s monitoring programme has been detecting rising levels of the toxin produced by phytoplankton (toxic algae) in shellfish samples in recent weeks.

“This closure is the first we have had for recreational harvesting because of DSP toxins for several years. It also applies to commercial farms around Banks Peninsula but not to Akaroa Harbour,” Dr Humphrey says.

“However, levels of toxins in adjacent areas are being closely monitored and further closure extensions are also possible in the next few weeks.”

People should not collect or eat any shellfish from closed areas, this includes scallops, tuatua, cockles, oysters, mussels, pipis, cats-eyes, pupu, kina and sea urchin.

“Cooking does not remove the toxins and therefore does not make them safe to eat,” Dr Humphrey says.

Crayfish, crabs, paua and fin fish can be eaten provided the gut is removed.

DSP symptoms includes the rapid onset of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, usually within 24 hours of eating shellfish.

“If you have any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice from your doctor, whether or not it is after eating shellfish. But if you have eaten shellfish, please let your doctor know.”

Warning signs will be posted around the area and updates will be provided as the situation develops.

For more information contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777. ​

Page last reviewed: 12 February 2014