Active Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Risk In Vesuvius Bay

The Pacific Shellfish Inspection - Canadian Food Inspection Agency is reporting an extremely high Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) risk in Pat Bay and Vesuvius Bay this week. There are very high levels of saxitoxins in Vesuvius Bay and Pat Bay currently. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans have closed the areas to shellfish harvesting. However if an unaware member of the public recreationally obtains bivalve shellfish, they would be at high risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) occurs after eating toxin-containing bivalve shellfish. The toxins are produced by toxic marine dinoflagellates (a small algae) that are sometimes but not always associated with red tides. There are several species of dinoflagellates that can produce toxin and these includeAlexandrium spp, Pyrodinium bahamense var compressum, andGymnodinium catenatum. The main type of toxin associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning is saxitoxin. Saxitoxin is water-soluble and heat-stable (cooking won't destroy it). There are over 20 known toxins formed from either saxitoxin or its derivatives. Paralytic shellfish poisoning occurs from ingesting bivalve shellfish (such as mussels, oysters, and clams) that contain toxins. These toxins can cause severe and life-threatening neurological effects.

​Shellfish harvested in BC coastal waters can sometimes be contaminated with this toxin. Self-harvesters of shellfish should check to see if the area they are harvesting from is open. Learn more about PSP.


  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for enacting the opening and closing of shellfish areas
  • The official site for Marine Biotoxin Updates remains the DFO Website

Here is the report from the Department of Fisheries:

Area 17: Effective immediately there is a harvest prohibition for all bivalve shellfish in that portion of Subarea 17-6 west of a line from a point starting at the boundary line for Subarea 17-8 on Penelakut (Kuper) Island at 48 deg 56.057 N latitude and 123 deg 37.877 W longitude, then heading in a straight line south-west and ending at a point 48 deg 55.017 N latitude, 123 deg 38.483 W longitude on the Subarea boundary line between Subareas 17-6 and 17-9.

This closure is due to a rapid rise in toxin levels in adjacent areas. The next planned sample cannot be obtained and/or analysed within a reasonable time frame to ensure consumer safety.

Area 19: Effective immediately there is a harvest prohibition for all bivalve shellfish in Subareas 19-6 and 19-8 to 19-12.

The most recent marine biotoxin results were unacceptable. Read the full report.

Salt Spring - Marine Management Areas

May 12, 2016 10:07 AM

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