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DFO offer tips to ensure safe and legal shellfish harvest

Before you go harvesting shellfish, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has some tips for you to have a safe and legal harvest.

According to the department’s website, bivalve molluscan shellfish feed by filtering plankton from the water. Because of water quality changes, it can lead to viruses, bacteria, or biotoxins building up in their tissue.

Some of the bacteria and viruses that can make you ill are Norovirus, Hepatitis A, and Vibrio, with symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, nausea, fever, headache, vomiting, fatigue, and headache respectively.

If marine biotoxins are present in the water, the department says they can accumulate in the shellfish, with Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, and Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning being the most common illnesses.

Along with health risks, they also say illegally harvesting those shellfish can damage the industry’s reputation. You are not allowed to harvest within 125 metres of a wharf, aquaculture operation, or a float home.

Before digging, look for signs that may show an area is closed to harvesting. You can check DFO’s website for a list of which sites are open and closed, along with maps for harvesting areas.

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