Sydneysiders are being warned not to eat seafood collected or caught in the Broken Bay area as a toxic algal bloom breaks out amid fears it could cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
Mussels and oysters should not be eaten as well as crab and lobster entrails when caught by recreational fishermen in the area, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
However, the department says seafood available in shops and restaurants “is safe to eat because the NSW Food Authority oversees the safety of commercially harvested shellfish”.
Deputy Director-General for Biosecurity and Food Safety John Tracey said the current affected area includes the waters of Broken Bay upstream from Cowan Creek, the coastal zone between Little Beach (Bouddi) and Bangalley Headland and Pittwater.
Paralytic shellfish toxins are produced by certain toxic species of algae and shellfish such as oysters, mussels, scallops, cockles and clams should not be taken or consumed from this area,” said Dr. Tracey.
“With Christmas just around the corner, it is important that communities in the Broken Bay area take extra precautions when gathering and consuming seafood. Cooking the product does not eliminate the risks posed by this toxin.
“It is recommended that recreational fishermen do not consume shellfish, including mussels (mussels and oysters) or the hepatopancreas (intestines) of crab and lobster (white meat is safe to eat) caught in the Broken Bay area.”
Symptoms of PSP include numbness and a tingling/tingling sensation around the mouth, face and extremities, difficulty swallowing or breathing, dizziness and headaches.
In more severe cases, people can experience nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, respiratory arrest, and in severe cases, death.
dr Tracey said symptoms usually appear within 10 minutes to three hours after eating.
“Anyone who experiences these symptoms after eating seafood from or near the affected area should see a doctor right away,” said Dr. Tracey.
“Poisoning from paralytic shellfish is rare, but it’s important that people follow this advice to avoid getting sick.”
Originally published as Seafood Warning Days from Christmas for Broken Bay