Removal of Whangaparaoa biotoxin warning and BOP reminder

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has removed the current health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish in the Whangaparaoa region due to marine biotoxins from toxic algae. Following extensive sampling of shellfish along this coastline, test results show that Paralytic Shellfish Toxins are no longer at levels of concern to public health. Warning signs will be taken down over the coming days.

The warning for the Bay of Plenty region remains current and the public are advised not to collect shellfish from the affected region. Latest testing of shellfish show the levels of Paralytic Shellfish Toxin are now climbing to potentially harmful levels.

The Bay of Plenty warning extends from the mouth of the Otahu River at the southern end of Whangamata Beach, southwards all the way down to the Whakatane Heads. The area includes Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, Matakana and Motiti Islands, and all other islands along this coastline.

Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten. 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.

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and three hours after ingestion and may include:

  • numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.

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. You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly. 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.

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