Fishery Notice

Category(s):
ABORIGINAL - General Information
AQUACULTURE - Shellfish
COMMERCIAL - Invertebrates: Clam - Intertidal
COMMERCIAL - Invertebrates: Clam - Razor
COMMERCIAL - Invertebrates: Geoduck and Horseclam
COMMERCIAL - Invertebrates: Oyster
COMMERCIAL - Invertebrates: Scallop by Trawl
General Information
PSP (Red Tide) /Other Marine Toxins
RECREATIONAL - Shellfish
Subject:
FN0852-Harvest Shellfish Safely - Reminder to Shellfish Harvesters - Risk of Vibrio Parahaemolyticus (VP) Gastrointestinal Sickness


Fisheries and Oceans Canada reminds shellfish harvesters in British Columbia to 
take extra precautions when harvesting shellfish during warm weather and to 
check whether fishing areas are open for shellfish harvest.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is a naturally occurring bacterium that can be 
present in bivalve shellfish (i.e. clams, oysters, scallops, mussels, cockles) 
even in harvest areas that are open and approved for shellfish harvesting. This 
bacterium is found in higher concentrations in summer months when water and air 
temperatures rise and this increases the risk of infection and illness when 
bivalve shellfish (like oysters) are consumed raw or undercooked.
 
The symptoms of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection may include watery diarrhea, 
stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and headache. Symptoms usually start 
within 12 to 24 hours and may last up to 3 days.

To reduce the risk of illness from Vibrio parahaemolyticus, bivalve shellfish 
should only be harvested at the water's edge when the tide is going out and 
shellfish should be iced, refrigerated or frozen immediately. 

The BC Center for Disease control advises to only eat cooked shellfish, as 
cooking will kill the bacteria and decrease the likelihood of gastrointestinal 
illness.  

http://www.bccdc.ca/resourcematerials/newsandalerts/news/Ongoing+warm+weather+in
creases+risk+of+illness+associated+with+raw+shellfish+consumption.htm 

To kill Vibrio parahaemolyticus cook shellfish in the shell, by either a) 
boiling until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes to a 
minimum internal temperature of 60 degrees Celsius, or b) steaming until the 
shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes. Do not eat those 
shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 
minutes, or fry them in oil for at least 10 minutes at 190 C (375 F), while 
keeping the pieces well separated.

Be advised that Vancouver Coastal Health has banned the sale of raw oysters in 
restaurants under its jurisdiction. 

http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/news-releases/public-service-announcement-for-
consumers-of-bc-oysters 

It is essential that bivalve shellfish are harvested from open areas and 
handled properly to minimize the risk of food borne illnesses. Only purchase 
shellfish from trusted retailers and restaurants who can confirm the source of 
shellfish, and that they were harvested from an open area. Shellfish should be 
iced, refrigerated or frozen after harvest or purchase, during transport and 
until they are cooked and ready to be eaten. 

This notice is one of several that consumers must review prior to harvesting 
bivalve shellfish. Detailed information and maps on shellfish closures are 
updated frequently. Ensure you check for both biotxin and sanitary closures. 
For detailed information and maps of shellfish closures please go to Fisheries 
and Oceans Canada's shellfish contamination webpage:
 
http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/contamination/index-eng.htm

Or call the toll free, 24-hour recorded information line at: 1-866-431-3474.

Or contact your local Fisheries and Oceans Canada office (call during regular 
business hours): 

www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/locations-bureaux-eng.htm

A tidal waters sport fishing licence is required to harvest shellfish for 
recreational purposes. Harvesters must comply with sport fishing regulations 
related to shellfish harvesting, such as area closures. It is illegal to 
harvest shellfish from a closed area.

For more information on marine toxins and Vibrio parahaemolyticus in bivalve 
shellfish, please see:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/consumer-centre/food-safety-tips/specific-
products-and-risks/bivalve-shellfish/eng/1332275144981/1332275222849   

http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/poisoning-intoxication/vibrio-
eng.php 

For more information on Shellfish Closures, contact: 
Elysha Gordon 

Resource Management Biologist 
Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program Regional Coordinator
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, South Coast Area 
Phone: (250) 756-7192 
Email: Elysha.Gordon@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
or at your local DFO office

Fisheries & Oceans Operations Center - FN0852
Sent August 13, 2015 at 1552