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SFPA advises public not to gather shellfish due to presence of serious marine toxins  

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is warning the public not to gather shellfish for personal consumption in the Castlemaine Harbour area of County Kerry, due to the presence of two marine toxin groups that can cause serious illness if contaminated shellfish is consumed either raw or cooked. The toxin groups, Paralytic Shellfish Toxins (PST) and Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins (DST), were detected during routine testing as part of Ireland’s shellfish monitoring programme, which is managed by the SFPA with the Marine Institute. As a result of the detection, the Castlemaine production area is now closed for the harvesting of shellfish until further notice. All results are available on the the Marine Institute’s website: (http://webapps.marine.ie/HABs)  

Paschal Hayes, Executive Chairperson of the SFPA, stated: “Ireland has a robust and effective shellfish monitoring programme in place to ensure that the highest standards of health and safety are maintained at all times, for the benefit of consumers and to maintain Ireland’s reputation as a world-class producer.  This monitoring programme has now detected the presence of two serious toxins in the Castlemaine Harbour area and we are strongly advising members of the public not to gather shellfish for personal consumption in this area.  

We are also reminding the public to only purchase seafood, whether for personal consumption or for sale, through reputable suppliers. Food businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets, should always look for the oval approval number on orders which confirms the supplier is approved to sell live bivalve molluscs.” 

Paschal Hayes said that anyone with concerns regarding fishing activity that might be illegal or contrary to seafood safety regulations should contact the regulator directly via its confidential telephone line at 1800 76 76 76. 



Notes to editor 

Bivalve Molluscs, such as oysters, mussels, clams, and cockles may occasionally accumulate these naturally occurring toxins which are produced by certain species of phytoplankton. These naturally occurring toxins do not harm the shellfish but can cause illness in humans, when contaminated shellfish are subsequently consumed.  

Under seafood safety regulations, live bivalve molluscs can only be harvested from production areas which meet the classification requirements for human consumption.  Production areas are classified by the SFPA according to the quality of the waters. In addition, the SFPA conducts a monthly shellfish sampling programme of all classified production areas to monitor the levels of microbiological contamination. Shellfish production areas are also sampled on a weekly basis for analysis by the Marine Institute to determine their biotoxin status to ensure any shellfish species which are harvested is safe for human consumption.