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

West Coast – South Head to Tirua Point (south of Kawhia) – North Island
West Coast - Waipapakauri to Kaipara - North Island

Previous changes
  • 2 October: Hawke's Bay Warning removed
  • 2 September: West Coast warning extended
  • 19 August: Hawke Bay Warning extended to Young Nicks Head.

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

West coast, South Head to Tirua Point (south of Kawhia)

Reason for alert

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

Extended on 2 September 2020

Media release

First issue: 12 August 2020

Media release

Affected area

West Coast North Island – from South Head (Manukau Harbour entrance) to Tirua Point (south of Kawhia)

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 affected area West Coast North Island – from South Head (Manukau Harbour entrance) to Tirua Point (south of Kawhia).

West coast, Waipapakauri to the head of Kaipara

Reason for alert

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)

Date warning issued

9 October 2020

Media release

Affected area

The Northland west coast from Waipapakauri on 90 Mile Beach, south to Pouto Point on the northern head of the Kaipara Harbour. This includes the Herekino, Whangape and Hokianga Harbours.

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 affected area West Coast North Island – from Waipapakauri on 90 Mile Beach to the head of Kaipara Harbour.

Find out more

Last reviewed: