Toxic algal bloom detected in pipis

Beach pipis. Image: NSW DPI

NSW DPI is reminding recreational fishers that there is a longstanding closure still in place which only permits recreational fishers to take pipis for bait, not for human consumption. Pipis cannot be taken more than 50m from the high tide mark, all along the NSW coastline.

The closure is in place because pipis may contain toxins due to natural algal blooms, which may not always be visible.

Algal blooms can occur anywhere along the coast and are normally the result of the upwelling of nutrient rich deep ocean water onto the continental shelf, and can often be seen after rainfall events in estuaries and in river mouths. Some of these algae produce harmful toxins that can build up in marine shellfish and the toxins are capable of making people very ill and cooking does not destroy the toxins.

Monitoring of toxins in commercially harvested pipis has revealed that there are currently high levels of diarrhetic shellfish toxins in pipis from Stockton Beach. The local commercial fishery for pipis and other shellfish harvested from Stockton Beach has been closed.

This is a timely reminder for recreational fishers that these ongoing risks are the reason why the general recreational fishing closure for pipis is in place. Pipis should not be taken by individuals for human consumption and should be used for bait only.

The NSW Food Authority is monitoring the situation at Stockton Beach and advises that all shellfish purchased through commercial seafood outlets are not affected as shellfish producers have ceased harvesting in the affected area.

It is recommended to only eat shellfish harvested under a recognised commercial program.

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