A public health warning has been issued on shellfish around the Coromandel Peninsula towards Whakatane Heads after potentially deadly toxins were found in them.

The Ministry of Primary Industries is advising people not to collect or eat any shellfish harvested from the mouth of the Otahu River, Whangamata Beach, southwards to the Whakatane Heads.

The area includes Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, as well as Matakana and Motiti Islands and all islands along the coastline.

High levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning was discovered after routine checks in the area.


Cooking the food will not kill the toxins, which affect mussels, oysters, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, cats-eyes, kina, tuatua and other bivalve shellfish.

Other delicacies such as crab, crayfish and paua can still be eaten - but only after the gut has been removed, as not removing it can still contaminate the meat while being cooked.

Anyone who feels ill after eating shellfish from this area is advised to see a doctor immediately or call the Healthline helpline.

Symptoms - which can appear between 10 minutes to three hours after eating - can include difficulty swallowing or breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, paralysis, numbness or a tingling sensation around the mouth, face and or hands and feet.

In severe cases, people can suffer respiratory failure or death.

Healthline: 0800 611 116.