The Ministry for Primary Industries is warning people about the serious health risks of buying black market shellfish after it closed down two illegal oyster selling operations in South Auckland this week.
MPI compliance officers seized 300kg of Pacific oysters thought to have been harvested locally that were being sold from the boot of a car and from a private address.
Both operations had erected make-shift for sale signs and both were reported to MPI by members of the public.
MPI District Compliance Manager Manukau Mike Greenstreet said this practice is highly illegal and could be a serious health risk for anyone eating the oysters.
“These oysters were not refrigerated or cleaned and were between three and seven days old. This was a recipe for disaster.”
“Oysters are considered a high risk food because they can thrive in contaminated water and pick up and store whatever pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi and other micro-organisms that cause illness in people), biotoxins or pollution that are present.”
Mr Greenstreet said the risk of becoming ill from oysters is very high for people with low immunity - young children, the elderly, pregnant women (and their unborn baby) or anyone who has a chronic illness.
Illness from contaminated oysters can be serious. If you or any member of your family becomes ill after eating shellfish, see your doctor immediately.
Mr Greenstreet is delighted that members of the public were concerned enough to inform MPI.
The daily recreational limit for Pacific oysters for the Auckland area is 100 per person.
It is illegal to sell your recreational catch and carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Investigations are continuing into laying charges under the Fisheries Act.
MPI encourages people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.