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

North Island

South Island

Previous changes
  • 28 February: South Island West Coast warning extended.
  • 13 February: South Island West Coast 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.

North Island warnings

Northland East Coast to area between Kokota (The Sandpit) and Farmer Point

Reason for alert

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

Monday, 4 February 2019

Affected area Northland East Coast area between Kokota (The Sandspit) and Farmer Point.
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 of PSP typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion. Symptoms 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.
Find out more
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.

Map of affected area

Map highlighting in red the areas affected.

Northland East Coast

Bay of Plenty, Waikato region

Reason for alert

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Affected area Bay of Plenty/Waikato region from Te Ororoa Point, just north of Tairua, down to Bowentown Heads but not including Tauranga 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 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.

Find out more

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.

Map of affected area

Map highlighting in red the areas affected.
Bay of Plenty / Waikato region from Te Ororoa Point, just north of Tairua, down to Bowentown Heads but not including Tauranga Harbour.

South Island warnings

Marlborough Sounds

Reason for alert

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

1 March 2019

Affected area The Pelorus Sound excluding the upper Kenepuru Sound. The warning extends outwards to a line from Paparoa Point to Culdaff Point.  
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.

Find out more

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.

Map of affected area

Map highlighting in red the areas affected.
The Pelorus Sound excluding the upper Kenepuru Sound. The warning extends outwards to a line from Paparoa Point to Culdaff Point.

Between Greymouth and Hector, West Coast

Reason for alert

Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP)

Date warning issued

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Extended Thursday, 28 February 2019

Affected area South Island West Coast between Greymouth and Hector.
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.

Find out more

Notes 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 highlighting in red the areas affected.
Coastline between Greymouth and Hector, on the South Island West Coast.

Find out more

Last reviewed:
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