Algae bloom forces ban on mussel picking in Taw and Torridge Estuary

A temporary ban has been issued on harvesting mussels from the Taw and Torridge Estuary after warm water temperatures have led to an algae bloom.

Suppliers are asking customers to ‘be patient’ with the first recorded closure since 2009, caused by high levels of toxins found in mussels at Spratt Ridge.

The toxins, produced by algae, can lead to diarrhetic shellfish poisoning if eaten, and North Devon and Torridge district councils have enforced the ban along the estuary.

“Other places around the country have had a closure in place since June, so in that sense we have been lucky,” said Phoebe Chope of Torridge Mussels and Oysters in Appledore.

“The first week was OK but it has been seven weeks now and it’s frustrating as September is normally a prime time for harvesting.

“We need a good thunder storm and some rainfall to flush out the river.”

Pam Charles, NDC’s service lead for food safety said the Food Standards Agency, had directed the closure.

“Unfortunately, and like a number of other areas around the country last month, the level for biotoxins exceeded the acceptable limit,” she said.

Samples of the mussels are being taken every week and are starting to show a reduction in the levels of toxins.

Pam added: “It’s therefore hoped that the beds will soon be achieving results below the prescribed EU limits and will soon be reopened for commercial harvesting.”

Dan ‘the Fishman’ Garnett, local food champion, thanked customers for ‘being patient’ while the ban was in place.

“We pride ourselves on providing the finest mussels to North Devon businesses and visitors, and the mussels in the Torridge are second-to-none,” he said.

“It is a natural occurrence and we hope as soon as there is some rain the algae should clear and we will be back to normal.”

A special meeting will be held in Bideford today (Wednesday) to discuss water quality in the Taw and Torridge Estuary.

 

View original article at: Algae bloom forces ban on mussel picking in Taw and Torridge Estuary

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