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:
FN0625- Harvest Shellfish Safely - Reminder to Shellfish Harvesters - Risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP or Red Tide), Domoic Acid Poisoning (also referred to Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning or ASP) and Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP)


Fisheries and Oceans Canada reminds shellfish harvesters in British Columbia to 
check whether fishing areas are open and shellfish are safe to consume before 
harvesting them and to take extra precautions during warm weather.

Consumers should be aware of some potential food safety issues associated with 
bivalve shellfish (i.e. clams, oysters, scallops, mussels, cockles), other 
molluscan shellfish (i.e. whelks and periwinkles).

These animals are highly sensitive to the quality of their marine environment. 
Because they feed themselves by filtering microscopic organisms from the water, 
harmful bacteria, viruses and biotoxins from their surroundings can build up in 
their tissues and cause illness in people who consume them.

Eating shellfish with high levels of certain toxins can lead to serious or 
potentially fatal illnesses such as: Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (commonly 
known as Red Tide), Domoic Acid or Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning and Diarrhetic 
Shellfish Poisoning. Cooking bivalve shellfish does not destroy the toxins. 
Cooked shellfish can still be toxic. 

Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (also referred to as red tide) could 
begin within a few minutes and up to 10 hours after consumption.  Symptoms of 
PSP can range from a tingling sensation or numbness around the lips, face and 
neck, to paralysis of respiratory muscles leading to death in extreme cases.

Symptoms of Domoic Acid Poisoning (also referred to as Amnesic Shellfish 
Poisoning) usually occur thirty minutes to 6 hours after consumption.  Symptoms 
of Domoic Acid Poisoning can include severe headache, nausea, vomiting, 
diarrhea, muscle weakness, confusion and disorientation and memory loss.  In 
extreme cases, death can occur.

Symptoms of Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning usually occur thirty minutes to 6 
hours after consumption, and can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, 
abdominal cramps and chills.

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 ready to be eaten.

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. 

Anyone who feels ill after eating bivalve shellfish should immediately seek 
medical attention.

This notice is one of several that consumers must review prior to harvesting 
bivalve shellfish.  DFO posts information regarding general biotoxin safety, 
and updates the coastwide list of openings & closures throughout the week based 
on recommendation from Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection 
Agency.  Detailed information and maps on shellfish closures are updated 
frequently and are available from the following sources: 

A toll free, 24-hour recorded information line: 1-866-431-3474 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's shellfish contamination webpage: 
http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/contamination/index-eng.htm

Remember to check both the sanitary and biotoxin updates at the link above, as 
both types of contamination can be present in an area.

Local Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices: www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/locations-
bureaux-eng.htm (call during regular business hours) 

To find information on a specific area consult the Sports Fishing Guide - 
British Columbia http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/index-eng.html
 
For more information on marine toxins 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 - FN0625
Sent July 6, 2017 at 1446