UPDATE: Shellfish along Dorset coast found to contain dangerous toxin

Shellfish along Dorset coast found to contain dangerous toxin

Shellfish along Dorset coast found to contain dangerous toxin

First published in News
Last updated

SHELLFISH along the Dorset coast has been found to contain traces of a potentially deadly toxin.

But fishermen are urging the public not to worry despite a major supermarket taking Dorset shellfish off the shelves.

The Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) toxin has been found to affect scallops and mussels and Portland Harbour has been issued with a closure notice for the harvesting of filter feeding molluscs. The closure does not include The Fleet oyster beds.

Routine testing of scallops has indicated the presence of toxin in the algae in quantities which present a risk to health.

But fishermen are hoping the scare will soon be over, despite a supermarket chain pulling its orders for local shellfish from a West Dorset company.

Fish merchant Samways, based in Bridport, has confirmed to the Echo that an unnamed supermarket has put a stop on orders for a week and is 'waiting to see what happens.'

Samways export manager Vitoldas Balciunas (CORR) said: “We have lost trade; a supermarket is concerned because they deal directly with the public. They have stopped our orders for a week to see what's going to happen.”

But he advised consumers not to worry as every batch is tested and levels of ASP are low.

He added: “We are testing every single batch before selling it. We just had a new sample on Monday, we checked two local boats and the level was a lot lower than the legal standard, but we are still testing every single landing.”

Scallop diver John Warswick called the situation 'annoying' but said the level of ASP is 'receding rapidly' and it will be business as usual soon.

The concern follows the growth of an algal bloom extending up the English Channel.

Mr Warswick added: “In spring there is a plankton bloom, and then it is gone for the year. The water will be getting clearer every day; it peaked late last week and now is receding rapidly.

“I wouldn't worry about it at these levels.”

Andy Alcock, secretary of the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fishermen's and Boatmen's Association said latest tests show there is nothing to worry about.

He added: “It's because of the extra-warm weather we had in winter.

“Consequently at the fist bit of sunlight there seems to have been an algal bloom.

“The last one we had was about 10 years ago. It's just inconvenient.

“The toxin is at a very low level. I think this is just a precaution so that nobody can say 'you should have told us.'

“As far as I know it hasn't caused too much hindrance for people.”

ASP can cause neurological symptoms such as dizziness, confusion and weakness if consumed in sufficient quantity.

Chris Wason, vice-chairman of the South West Inshore Scallopers Association, said: “It can be quite bad for us because when people hear about these things they may get put off.

“But the scallops are okay; it just means we can't sell direct at the moment.

“The toxin is in the black bag which is the waste matter and once that is removed, the toxin is gone.

“They are going through a testing process so I would tell people not to worry too much.”

Nigel Emery, Weymouth Port Health Authority chief port health officer apologised for inconvenience to businesses and asked them to comply with safeguards whilst investigations continue.

Anyone with questions should contact Weymouth Port Health Authority on 01305 838432 or email Porthealth@weymouth.gov.uk

Comments (9)

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3:49pm Tue 20 May 14

annotater says...

Does that mean we might not be able to remember how many we have eaten?
Does that mean we might not be able to remember how many we have eaten? annotater
  • Score: -3

4:53pm Tue 20 May 14

arlbergbahn says...

"If consumed in sufficient quantity ... in very rare cases". Typical let's make a drama out of a news story.
"If consumed in sufficient quantity ... in very rare cases". Typical let's make a drama out of a news story. arlbergbahn
  • Score: -4

6:21pm Tue 20 May 14

Dorsetdumpling says...

We're getting into the spawning season for mussels and cockles anyway, so shouldn't be collecting them this time of year.

1987 outbreak in Canada, 153 people poisoned, 4 died, 19 hospitalised, 12 needed intensive care, effects can cause permanent dementia - how do you like them odds arlbergbahn? Fancy a cockle?
We're getting into the spawning season for mussels and cockles anyway, so shouldn't be collecting them this time of year. 1987 outbreak in Canada, 153 people poisoned, 4 died, 19 hospitalised, 12 needed intensive care, effects can cause permanent dementia - how do you like them odds arlbergbahn? Fancy a cockle? Dorsetdumpling
  • Score: 8

9:59pm Tue 20 May 14

weylin says...

I am equally concerned about the disgusting state of Radipole Lake where the mute swans died in large numbers last year. Three days ago during a hot spell there was a sludge all along the rim with what looked like moss covered turds everywhere.
Folks are happy to organise beach clean ups but what about the lake? Swans and other birds drink that water!
I am equally concerned about the disgusting state of Radipole Lake where the mute swans died in large numbers last year. Three days ago during a hot spell there was a sludge all along the rim with what looked like moss covered turds everywhere. Folks are happy to organise beach clean ups but what about the lake? Swans and other birds drink that water! weylin
  • Score: 5

7:36am Wed 21 May 14

arlbergbahn says...

My word, the Echo isn't getting at all hysterical in the front page today, are they. "POISON SCARE!" And a picture of a skull & crossbones warning notice.
And how misleading is "Harbour closed"? They make it sound as if Weymouth harbour has been closed or something and that anyone daring to come near is likely to be POISONED.
My word, the Echo isn't getting at all hysterical in the front page today, are they. "POISON SCARE!" And a picture of a skull & crossbones warning notice. And how misleading is "Harbour closed"? They make it sound as if Weymouth harbour has been closed or something and that anyone daring to come near is likely to be POISONED. arlbergbahn
  • Score: 3

12:42pm Wed 21 May 14

JamesYoung says...

"A shellfish has" or "Shellfish have".
This paper gets worse and worse.
"A shellfish has" or "Shellfish have". This paper gets worse and worse. JamesYoung
  • Score: 2

3:12pm Wed 21 May 14

Bob Goulding says...

JamesYoung wrote:
"A shellfish has" or "Shellfish have".
This paper gets worse and worse.
Clearly only one has been found to contain a toxin so we should be okay to indulge.
[quote][p][bold]JamesYoung[/bold] wrote: "A shellfish has" or "Shellfish have". This paper gets worse and worse.[/p][/quote]Clearly only one has been found to contain a toxin so we should be okay to indulge. Bob Goulding
  • Score: 2

8:20am Thu 22 May 14

Get a grip says...

For a local paper the Echo appear to take delight in putting the boot in for the local economie.
For a local paper the Echo appear to take delight in putting the boot in for the local economie. Get a grip
  • Score: 2

12:55pm Thu 22 May 14

Get a grip says...

typo Economy
typo Economy Get a grip
  • Score: 2

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