THE Marine Institute is warning people against the recreational gathering of shellfish after detecting increased levels of compounds in shellfish, which while naturally occurring, can cause illness in consumers.
It says the occurrence of the compounds is common at this time of the year and is due to microscopic phytoplankton species, which is common in our coastal waters during summer.
Increased levels of the compounds have been detected in recent weeks during a routine nationwide shellfish monitoring programme along South West and West coasts, resulting in the temporary closure of certain commercial shellfish production areas issued by the Institute.
“This summer, so far, has seen high levels of toxic phytoplankton and toxins in shellfish requiring temporary closures until the problem abates. It is stressed, however, that these only affect shellfish. Swimming and other coastal recreations are not affected. We would strongly advise the public to avoid picking their own shellfish along the shoreline, and to only source shellfish from an approved retail establishment,” said Dave Clarke, manager of the Marine Institute's Shellfish Safety programme.
A spokesperson for the Marine Institute said a small amount of toxicity has also been observed in one area along the South Coast, but this has been below EU regulatory levels.
It says all areas along the South coast are currently open for shellfish production.