Caution Advised on All Wild Shellfish Fri 13 July 2012 Dr Kelly Shaw Acting Director of Public Health Tasmanians are reminded of the permanent public health warning against eating wild shellfish, despite a three-month long Public Health Alert being downgraded today. Alert issued in April and May warned that eating wild shellfish from parts of the Huon Estuary, Port Esperance, Southport, South Bruny Island and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel could result in potentially fatal paralytic shellfish poisoning. Acting Director of Public Health, Dr Kelly Shaw, said the naturally-occurring algal blooms have dissipated and the latest testing showed bi-valve shellfish, such as mussels and oysters, have flushed the toxins. "However, this does not mean it is 100 per cent safe to eat wild shellfish," she said. "We, as always, advise Tasmanians that eating bi-valve shellfish harvested from the wild is a high risk activity. "This is because the quality of the water may not be monitored and could be influencing the quality of the shellfish; for example after heavy rainfall or naturally occurring algal blooms, as happened in this case." Dr Shaw said it is still advisable to remove the gut of wild abalone, crab and crayfish before eating the meat. "The toxins concentrate in the gut of these animals, so if you do choose to eat wild abalone, crab or crayfish, make sure you fully remove this part before eating," she said. "These 'grazing' creatures function differently to bi-valve shellfish and are slower to flush their systems. "So while the bi-valve shellfish have purged the toxin, it may take much longer for these 'grazers' to be cleared." Commercial shellfish farms in the affected areas have re-opened. It is recommended, as always, that people buy their shellfish from approved retail outlets. For up-to-date information, go to www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh or call the Public Health hotline on 1800 671 738.