Most of the waters surrounding Nanaimo are now closed to the harvesting of all bivalve shellfish due to high levels of marine biotoxins (red tide).
Red tide (Paralytic Shellfish Poison contamination) is caused by microscopic marine organisms that produce toxins. These toxins can accumulate in bivalve shellfish such as clams, oysters, mussels and scallops because these animals filter feed.
Eating shellfish in a red tide zone can result in serious illness or death.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency tests samples from the waters around B.C. by areas and sub-areas on a weekly basis and if toxin levels are unacceptable, the area or sub-area is closed to harvesting.
A harvest prohibition is in place for most of area 17, which runs from Crofton to Nanoose Bay, with the exception of an area on the east side of Gabriola Island and north end of Valdes Island – closed to all bivalve shellfish except manila clams, littleneck clams, oysters, mussels, geoduck and horse clams – and a sub-area in Nanoose Bay that is closed to butter clams and scallops only.
The beaches in Parksville and Qualicum Beach remain closed.
For a complete list of both red tide and sanitary closures, please go to www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/contamination/biotox/index-eng.htm.