How can I be sure the shellfish (kai moana) I am gathering is safe to eat?
Shellfish (kai moana) tend to concentrate any pollution of the surrounding water in their flesh, so special care should be given when gathering shellfish to avoid getting sick. Seawater may become polluted with bugs (bacteria) or viruses from run-off after rainfall (for example from surrounding farmland), or from failing septic tanks or animal-contaminated nearby streams. These bugs and viruses can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
Shellfish may also be contaminated with marine biotoxins from certain types of algal blooms in the seawater. Biotoxins can cause a range of illnesses from vomiting and diarrhoea to nervous system problems like headaches, numbness and tingling, seizures and coma.
A further risk factor is that shellfish are often eaten raw or only partially cooked - which may not kill the polluting bugs. Cooking shellfish does not destroy biotoxins from algal blooms.
To avoid collecting shellfish that could make you sick, Public Health advises you to collect only from visibly clean seawater with no potential contamination from sources of human or animal sewage.
We advise you NOT to collect shellfish:
Areas known to be affected by biotoxin contamination have warning signs placed nearby, or on beach access points, and are also advertised on the radio and in the newspapers. Please be aware that cooking shellfish does not destroy biotoxins from algal blooms.
Click here for general information on safe shellfish collection.