New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) issued a public health warning against collecting shellfish from the Pelorus Sound area in the Marlborough Sounds. The area includes Pelorus Sound from Hikapu Reach at Koutuwai Point up to Spencer and Capsize Points.
Paralytic Shellfish Toxins have been detected in shellfish at Nydia Bay at levels several times above the safe limit set by MPI. There is an extreme risk of consuming shellfish in this area.
Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten.
NZFS added that it was necessary to note that cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.
Pāua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed before cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed, its contents could contaminate the meat during cooking.
Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet), difficulty swallowing or breathing, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
paralysis and respiratory failure, and in severe cases, death.
If persons become ill after eating shellfish from an area with a public health warning, they are encouraged to phone Healthline for advice at 0800 61 11 16 or to seek medical attention immediately. People are also advised to contact their nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.
Monitoring of toxin levels will continue, and any changes will be communicated accordingly. Commercially harvested shellfish, sold in shops and supermarkets or exported, are subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.