Stick to New Zealand fish

There's little chance of being poisoned by the tropical fish toxin ciguatera in New Zealand, the Ministry of Primary Industries says.

A Whakatane woman, Amanda Austrin, spent more than 30 weeks in hospital after she ate a toxic fish while holidaying in Fiji last year.

Eighteen months after her trip, Ms Austrin is still unable to eat or take fluids without the help of a machine, suffers hot and cold reversals and vomits daily.

She shared her story to warn travellers to Australia and the Pacific Islands not to eat reef fish.

There is no known antidote to the toxin, which is odourless, tasteless and found in tropical predator fish such as barracuda, snapper, grouper and parrotfish.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Primary Industries said fish caught in New Zealand waters were very unlikely to carry the toxin. "Ciguatera toxin is found in fish that live around reefs in tropical waters (circumtropically between 32°N and 32°S)."

Tauranga fish merchants spoken to by the Bay of Plenty Times said they only sold fish caught in New Zealand waters.

Bobby Palmer, owner of Bobby's fish and chip shop in Dive Crescent, said he used to import fish from Fiji and Vanuatu but had stopped because he couldn't be sure the fish did not contain toxins.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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