Shellfish biotoxin alerts
Do not collect or eat shellfish from areas where shellfish biotoxin warnings have been issued.
All warnings are up to date
Warnings are reviewed weekly following sampling results. Information on this page is then updated if needed.
If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- 8 January 2019: Warning for Northland area between Granville and Cape Karikari was extended to North Cape.
- 19 December 2018: Bay of Islands warning removed.
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.
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.
Commercially harvested shellfish
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. If commercial shellfish growing areas are affected by shellfish toxins, the areas are closed for harvesting, and the shellfish do not enter the food chain – in New Zealand or in overseas.
Reason for alert
Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)
|Date warning issued||
7 January 2019. Extended on 8 January 2019
|Affected area||North Cape (Outo) down to Cape Karikari (Whakapouaka). The warning includes Parengarenga, Houhoura and Rangaunu Harbours.|
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.
Symptoms of PSP typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion. Symptoms may include:
|Notes||Paralytic shellfish toxins have been detected in shellfish at levels over the safe limit of 0.8mg/kg set by MPI. Ongoing testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly.|
Find out more
- Food safety for seafood gatherers booklet [PDF, 681 KB]
- Causes and symptoms of toxic shellfish poisoning
- Toxic algal blooms
- Collecting shellfish and keeping them safe [PDF, 1.4 MB]
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