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 info@mpi.govt.nz

Current warnings

South Island

Croisilles Harbour, Marlborough Sounds

Pelorus Sound, Nydia Bay

Port Levy, Lyttelton Harbour

Previous changes
  • 15 May 2020: Pelorus Sound, Nydia Bay warning issued.
  • 17 April 2020: Croisilles Harbour, Marlborough Sounds warning issued.

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.

South Island warnings

Croisilles Harbour, Marlborough Sounds

Reason for alert

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

17 April 2020

Media release

Affected area

The entire Croisilles Harbour area in the Marlborough Sounds

Shellfish affected

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

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 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.

Other information

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.

Map of affected area

Map showing the affected area
Map of the entire Croisilles Harbour area in the Marlborough Sounds.

 Pelorus Sound

Reason for alert

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

12 May 2020

Media release

Affected area

All of Nydia Bay, Pelorus Sound

Shellfish affected

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

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 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.

Other information

Phytoplankton known to cause paralytic shellfish toxins have been detected over the safe limit set by MPI. This public health warning doesn’t apply to the commercial harvest of mussels in Nydia Bay. Ongoing testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly.

Map of affected area

Map showing the affected area
Map of all of Nydia Bay, Pelorus Sound.

Port Levy, Lyttelton Harbour

Reason for alert

Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP)

Date warning issued

4 June 2020

Media release

Affected area

Between Sumner Head and East Head at Okains Bay on Banks Peninsula, including Lyttelton Harbour.

Shellfish affected

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

Symptoms typically appear within half an hour of ingestion and last for about 24 hours and may include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps

Other information

Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins have been detected in shellfish at levels above the safe limit of 0.16mg/kg set by MPI. Ongoing testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly.

Map of affected area

Map showing the affected area
Map between Sumner Head and East Head at Okains Bay on Banks Peninsula, including Lyttelton Harbour.

Find out more

Last reviewed: