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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shellfish danger - e-coli in the estuaries

Warnings on Gathering Shellfish in two Southland Estuaries 

 High levels of faecal contamination in three areas where people commonly gather shellfish have triggered warnings not to eat shellfish from the New River Estuary or Toetoes Harbour until fresh samples have been analysed. 
 The three sites are Mokomoko Inlet and Whaler's Bay in the New River Estuary and in the Fortrose area of Toetoes Harbour. Environment Southland routinely monitors water quality at popular shellfish gathering sites. 
 Recent samples have shown E-coli levels that are higher than the standards for safe consumption of shellfish. Water quality scientist Nick Ward said that fresh samples have been taken to check whether the water continues to be contaminated, but the analysis will take at least five days to be completed. In the meantime, Medical Officer of Health Dr Derek Bell is cautioning people not to gather shellfish from the two estuaries which have recorded high levels of E-coli. 
 The Invercargill City and Southland District Councils will be erecting signs warning people not to gather shellfish there. "People need to take a cautious approach and avoid gathering shellfish from those two estuaries until we have the latest results," Dr Bell said. 
 Mr Ward said that without further investigation it was impossible to know whether the high faecal coliform levels were from local sources or had been washed into the estuaries from upstream after rain. "These results are not unexpected, which is why we always advise people not to gather shellfish for three to five days after heavy rain," Mr Ward said. 

"These results are not unexpected."

That's unfortunate indeed.

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