Shellfish deemed all-clear in tests

18:27, Mar 31 2014

A public health warning not to eat shellfish from Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel has been lifted.

Toxin-producing algae contaminated shellfish and if eaten could have resulted in paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

Nelson Marlborough medical officer of health Ed Kiddle said two consecutive shellfish tests had shown the levels of the algae had returned to a safe level.

"Although the algae bloom responsible for the toxin had been declining during March it has taken several weeks for the toxin to be flushed from the shellfish," Kiddle said.

The all-clear comes five weeks after the ban was put in place.

PSP can cause numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision. Symptoms usually occur within 12 hours of consuming shellfish. In severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure can occur.


Signs put up to inform people of the shellfish ban would be removed over the next few days.

Kiddle reminded people to only take shellfish from clean water and never take shellfish after rain or when the water was dirty.

Certain areas such as estuaries near urban settlements were never suitable for taking shellfish for eating, Kiddle said.

A Ministry of Primary Industries spokesperson said shellfish farmers could resume harvesting.

The Marlborough Express