Shellfish biotoxin alerts

Do not collect or eat shellfish from areas where shellfish biotoxin warnings have been issued. All warnings on this page are current.


Public warnings about toxic shellfish

Shellfish and seawater samples are taken every week from popular shellfish gathering areas around New Zealand and are tested for the presence of toxic algae. If the shellfish are not safe to eat, then public health warnings are issued and signs are posted at affected beaches.

The information on this page relates only to the non-commercial (recreational and traditional) taking of shellfish. Commercially harvested shellfish – sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported – is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.

North Island warnings

There is one warning in place for the North Island:

  • Eastern Bay of Plenty

Eastern Bay of Plenty

Reason for alert Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)
Date warning issued

23 November 2016

Affected area

All coastline between Cape Runaway and the Tarawera River mouth near Matata. The warning includes Ohiwa Harbour.

Shellfish affected

Do not eat mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish.

Note, cooking shellfish does NOT remove the toxin.

Pāua, 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.

Other information PSP toxins have been detected in shellfish at levels of up to 11mg/kg which is over 10 times the safe limit of 0.8mg/kg set by MPI. Ongoing testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is at a real risk of illness.
Map: The affected area in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region
Map of affected area from Whakatane Heads to Cape Runaway
Map showing the area covered by the shellfish biotoxin alert.

South Island warnings

There is one warning in place for the South Island:

  • Ashburton River to Gore Bay

Ashburton River to Gore Bay

Reason for alert Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP)
Date warning issued

13 October 2016
Updated 3 November 2016

Affected area

Between Ashburton River and Gore Bay

Shellfish affected

Do not eat mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish.

Note: cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Pāua, 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.

Other information DSP toxins have been detected in shellfish at levels over the safe limit of 0.16mg/kg set by MPI. Ongoing testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly.
Map: The affected area in the Canterbury region
Shellfish biotoxin warning - Canterbury region
Map showing the area covered by the shellfish biotoxin alert.

If you get sick after eating shellfish

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued:

  • phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately
  • advise your nearest public health unit
  • keep any leftover shellfish for testing.

Find out more

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