Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

July 10, 2007 15:47 ET

DFO: Safe Shellfish Harvesting-Check Before You Dig

Updated July 9, 2007

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 10, 2007) - Are you planning to harvest shellfish this summer? Yes? Good for you! Shellfish harvesting is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and spend quality time with friends and family while enjoying Canada's beautiful coastal areas. Shellfish are an excellent source of protein, are high in essential minerals, and low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Bivalve shellfish, the type that have a hinged two-part shell, are the common type of shellfish harvested recreationally. Bivalve shellfish include oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles.

Before you head out, please take a few moments to inform yourself so you have an enjoyable and safe experience. Check before you dig!

Bivalve shellfish are highly sensitive to the quality of water in the marine environment. They feed on microscopic plants that can sometimes produce naturally-occurring marine biotoxins, which can build up in their tissues. Eating shellfish with high levels of these biotoxins can lead to serious and potentially fatal illness.

Every summer, vacationers and residents of Canada's coastal communities hear of shellfish harvesting closures areas on the radio or read about them in local newspapers. The closures are an important health protection measure to minimize the risk of human illness, such as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). These closures are implemented by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) based on recommendations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ( and Environment Canada.( Shellfish closures, common during warm weather months (April to October), can occur at any time of the year.

Fact Sheet

Red Tide, PSP and Safe Shellfish Harvesting (

DFO - Shellfish Contamination Closures

To find out which bivalve shellfish harvesting areas are open or closed, call your nearest DFO office listed in the blue pages of your local telephone directory.

Information regarding shellfish closures is also available on-line in the following regions at the links provided below:

- British Columbia/Yukon (

- Gulf Region (

- Quebec ( - Current recreational shellfish harvest information is also available at kiosks in Visitor Information Centers throughout Quebec. A wealth of information is available at:

Note: where there is no Internet presence, please contact your local DFO office listed in the blue pages of your local telephone directory.

Also look for signs, like the examples provided at, posted around the area in which you plan to harvest shellfish. Respect the signs for your own safety.


Fact sheets prepared by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

- What You Need To Know Before Harvesting Shellfish This Summer (

- Food Safety Facts on Bivalve Shellfish in British Columbia (

- Food Safety Facts on Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) (

Maritime Coastal Mollusc Harvesting Guide (

A guide to harvesting bivalve shellfish in Canada's maritime provinces produced jointly by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Environment Canada.

Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program ( (

Harvesting shellfish in Quebec (website governed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Environment Canada).

BC Centre for Disease Control: Brochure entitled Shellfish Safety: Advice for Harvesters (

Public Opinion Research conducted by CFIA: Consumer awareness and perceptions of shellfish consumption and recreational harvesting (

Shellfish Water Quality Protection Program (Environment Canada) (

Note: This page contains links to Web sites not under the control of the Government of Canada. For further information on our hyperlinking practices, please refer to the Hyperlinking Notice (

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