When Not to Gather Shellfish | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

When Not to Gather Shellfish

Wild shellfish or kaimoana should not be gathered during or after rainfall when the seawaters are turbid, cloudy or unusually muddy. Water logged soils in the catchment may cause harmful bugs and chemicals to be washed off into the seawater.

Wild shellfish or kaimoana should not be gathered if obvious sources of pollution are known about or seen in the vicinity. This may include effluent from sewage treatment plants, septic tanks, surface water drains, landfill sites, marinas  and also large numbers of animals or birds on land or water.

Before you collect shellfish …

Ensure your Kai Moana is safe to eat.

Some areas might look safe at first but may not be safe for collecting shellfish.

The water could be contaminated by:

  • sewage and domestic waste
  • engine fuel, paints and chemicals
  • agricultural waste and run-off.

Avoid collecting shellfish from areas where there are signs warning of contaminated shellfish. Click here to view areas which have warning signs.

Look out for the following risk indicators:

  • recent heavy rain causing farm run-off
  • houses close to the beach
  • rivers and streams that may be polluted by animal faeces or industrial waste
  • stock or signs of stock near the gathering area
  • drains discharging onto the beach.


  • collect from clean safe areas
  • check with locals if in doubt
  • take your kai moana straight home and refrigerate.
Health Risks

Eating shellfish taken from contaminated areas could cause:

  • a fever
  • a tummy bug
  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting.

Algal bloom contamination could also cause serious breathing difficulties, loss of muscle control, loss of memory, nausea, vomiting and death.

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