PORTLAND: Toxic algae is found in Portland Harbour

Experts have closed Portland Harbour as a harvesting area for molluscs such as mussels and scallops after toxic algae was found which poses a risk to health. Routine testing of scallops on the Dorset coast indicated the presence of the ASP toxin following the growth of an algal bloom extending up the English Channel…

Health officials said it was not possible to define the exact extent of the bloom, but commercial gatherers placing scallops on the market for human consumption must now ensure that they or the auction market-wholesaler-merchant they supply must test each batch of scallops for the presence of ASP toxin to ensure they are safe to eat. Not to do this will be an offence as well as a public health risk.

The authorities are working closely with the Food Standards Agency, the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Marine Management Organisation to monitor the situation.

Portland Harbour as a classified  production area has been formally closed to the harvesting of filter feeding molluscs following the detection of toxins in mussels above the permitted level. This closure does not include The Fleet oyster beds.

Weymouth Port Health Authority Chief Port Health Officer Nigel Emery said: “It is our primary duty to protect the health of the public. We will be working with partners to monitor the situation.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to businesses who harvest filter feeding molluscs but it is important that we ask businesses to comply with safeguards and the public not to gather them while investigations are carried out.”

ASP or Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning is a type of toxin which can cause neurological symptoms if consumed in sufficient quantity. These symptoms include dizziness, confusion, weakness, permanent short-term memory loss and in very rare cases, death.

Members of the public are advised not to gather filter feeding molluscs for their own consumption until further notice in case they contain this toxin.

Anyone with any questions about this algal toxin problem should contact Weymouth Port Health Authority on 01305 838432 or email [email protected].

 

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