Unlike other meat and fish, shellfish are generally eaten raw or only partially cooked which means that any harmful bugs in the shellfish would not be killed. This increases the risk of consumers getting sick.
Shellfish grow in seawaters, some like oysters, pipis and cockles, in shallow estuaries and harbours which receive run-off from the surrounding land. Any contamination such as animal manures and farm effluent, human sewage from septic tanks and sewage treatment plants, waste dumps and industrial effluents, will all eventually end up in the seawater. The shellfish will accumulate bugs and toxic materials flushed into the water.
Sewage overflow in a harbour
Rain, especially heavy rain, together with the heavy poorly drained soils often found in Northland, will increase the amounts of runoff received by our rivers and seawaters.
Boats in shallow waters and with no facilities for storage of toilet wastes, may also be a risk for allowing human waste to be dumped overboard near shellfish beds.
Moored boats in a River
Large flocks of seabirds may contaminate shellfish beds where they are nesting or gathering in large numbers.
Please click here to view when shellfish should not be gathered