PORTLAND: Toxic algae continues to pose a health risk

ALGAL toxins found in Portland Harbour continue to pose a health risk after high levels were found in scallops tested off the South Dorset coast…

It was reported two weeks ago that scallops caught in the sea off the Dorset coast were found to be affected by higher than permitted levels of a type toxin which can cause neurological symptoms if consumed in sufficient quantity.

The algal bloom extended across the English Channel to France and along the south coast.

Dorset authorities continue to work closely with the Food Standards Agency, the Marine Management Organisation and the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority to monitor ASP toxin levels in both whole and shucked scallops.

Portland Harbour, a classified production area for oysters and mussels, is still closed to mollusc harvesting, although levels have dropped and it is hoped that the closure may be lifted shortly.

The Fleet oyster beds continue to be unaffected.

Chair of Weymouth Port Health Committee Councillor Paul Kimber said: “This ASP event is the first one of notable toxicity which has occurred off the south coast since records started. We have therefore had to set up an information network and agreed protocols to deal with it, such that the public are protected and the scalloping industry suffers the minimum of disruption.

“Casual gatherers of any type of bivalve molluscs (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops etc) currently picked up off the Dorset coast are warned that they could still contain harmful toxin levels , although it is scallops that are the species of particular concern.”


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