In Northland shellfish are gathered all year round, although when it’s summer at the beach we are more likely to gather kaimoana.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) regularly monitor and sample for presence of any toxins in shellfish. Should toxins be found to be present in shellfish at levels which could cause ill health to us, MPI will alert public with public health warnings against consuming contaminated shellfish:
Click here for the latest Shellfish Biotoxin alerts and updates
Shellfish such as oysters, mussels, pipis, tuatuas, and cockles are known as "Filter Feeders".
They filter any harmful bacteria, viruses, toxins and chemicals from the seawater which then build up in their flesh and gut.
Anyone eating contaminated shellfish may then become sick, so special care must always be taken when gathering and eating shellfish.
Eating shellfish from areas contaminated with pollution or sewage could cause:
Eating shellfish from areas with an algal bloom (biotoxin contamination) could cause:
Cooking or freezing shellfish does not kill the toxins
They are still potentially very dangerous if eaten by people or animals.
For health advice 24 hours a day contact Healthline 0800 611 116
Is the tide right? Check that the tide is low
Is the weather safe? Check the weather fore-cast for your shellfish site
Has it rained in the last few days? A dirty sea may mean dirty shellfish.
Have you got a chilled container? Keep your shellfish cool and out of the sun until you eat them
Is there a shellfish toxin warning? Check the MPI website for shellfish toxin alerts
Have you eaten shellfish and feet ill? Symptoms as described above typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include: In severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure can occur within 12 hours of consuming shellfish.
If you become ill after eating shellfish, phone Healthline for advice on 0800 611 116 and/or seek medical attention immediately.
Also, please contact on-call Health Protection Officer on 09-4304100 and keep any leftover shellfish so it can be tested.