Marine biotoxin warning for shellfish in Akaroa Harbour

Wednesday July 4, 2018

Community and Public Health has issued a health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from any part of Akaroa Harbour.

Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Rink says routine tests on shellfish samples taken from Akaroa Harbour has shown levels of Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.16 mg/kg set by the Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI). Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

“Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, cats-eyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten" says Dr Pink. Dr Pink also warns that cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

“Symptoms of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning typically appear within half an hour and can last for 24 hours.”

Symptoms of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning may include:

  • Diarrhoea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Nausea, and
  • Abdominal cramps

Dr Pink says that pāua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. The gut contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process if not removed.

Phone your usual General Practice team 24/7 if anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from the affected area. Call 111 if it’s an emergency.

You are also advised to contact Community and Public on (03) 364 1777 and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

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

For more information:

Map of Akaroa harbour, South Island shellfish warning 

Page last reviewed: 05 July 2018
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