Shellfish gathering

Every summer we test water quality at a number of spots around Northland that are popular for collecting shellfish (kai moana).

Guidelines for Recreational Shellfish Gathering Water Quality

Over a shellfish-gathering season, the guideline for recreational shellfish gathering water quality is:

  • a median faecal coliform count not exceeding 14 per 100 mL; and
  • not more than 10% of samples exceeding 43 per 100 mL.

Non-compliance with either of these parameters indicates that the water is not suitable for the purpose of recreational shellfish gathering.

Previous results

Results for summer 2016 / 2017

Of a total of 45 sites monitored during summer 2016-17 summer season:

  • 1 site exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100mL
  • 8 sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL

Thirty seven of the total of 45 sites met the Ministry for the Environment guidelines during the 2016-17 summer.

Download a summary of the 2016 / 2017 results (PDF, 75KB)

Results for summer 2015 / 2016

Of a total of 43 sites monitored during summer 2015-16 summer season:

  • 4 sites exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100mL
  • 18 sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL

Twenty five of the total of 43 sites met the Ministry for the Environment guidelines during the 2015-16 summer.

Download a summary of the 2015 / 2016 results (PDF, 96 KB)

Results for summer 2014 / 2015

Of a total of 47 sites monitored during the 2014/2015 summer season:

  • 4 sites exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100 mL
  • 23 sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL

Twenty four of the total 47 sites met the Ministry for the Environment guidelines during 2014/2015 summer. 

Download a summary of the 2014 / 2015 results (PDF, 115 KB)

Results for summer 2013 / 2014

Of a total of 47 sites monitored during the 2013/2014 summer season:

  • 5 sites exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100 mL
  • 21 sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL

Twenty six of the total 47 sites met the Ministry for the Environment guidelines during 2013/2014 summer.

Download a summary of the 2013 / 2014 results (PDF, 67 KB)

Results for summer 2012 / 2013

Of a total of 47 sites monitored during the 2012/2013 summer season:

  • 9 sites exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100 mL
  • 22 sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL

Twenty five of the total 47 sites met the Ministry for the Environment guidelines during 2012/2013 summer.

Download a summary of the 2012 / 2013 results (PDF, 406 KB)

Results for summer 2011 / 2012

Of a total of 48 sites monitored during the 2011/2012 summer season:

  • 21 sites exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100 mL
  • 34 sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL

Fourteen of the total 48 sites met the Ministry for the Environment guidelines during 2011/2012 summer.

Download a summary of the 2011 / 2012 results (PDF, 191 KB)

Results for summer 2010 / 2011

Of the 15 sites sampled during the 2010/2011 summer season:

  • seven sites exceeded the median faecal coliform limit of 14 per 100 mL
  • All sites had more than 10% of samples that exceeded a faecal coliform count of 43 per 100mL.

None of the 15 sites met the guidelines during 2010/2011 summer.

Download a summary of the 2010 / 2011 results (PDF, 33 KB)

Check before you collect shellfish

Some areas might look suitable at first but may not be suitable for collecting shellfish.  The water could be contaminated by:

  • sewage and domestic waste
  • engine fuel, paints and chemicals
  • agricultural waste and run-off

Avoid collecting shellfish from areas where there are signs warning of contaminated shellfish.  Look out for the following risk indicators:

  • recent heavy rain causing farm run-off
  • houses close to beach - they may have septic tank leaks
  • rivers and streams that may be polluted by animal or industrial waste
  • stock near the gathering area
  • algal bloom in the water
  • stormwater drain outlets on the beach

Gathering shellfish.  

Keeping shellfish safe to eat

Always ensure your shellfish (kai moana) is safe to eat.

Always:

  • collect from clean, suitable areas
  • check with locals if in doubt
  • take your shellfish straight home and refigerate

Know your limit

There are limits to the amount of shellfish you are allowed to take.  This is to ensure there is enough for everyone - today and for the future.  Shellfish limits are managed by the Ministry of Fisheries.

For shellfish bag limits and size restrictions, contact the Ministry of Fisheries:

Shellfish warnings - is it suitable to collect shellfish in your area?

As the Northland Regional Council, our role is to test water quality at a number of spots around Northland that are popular for collecting shellfish (kai moana).

However, we pass that information on to the Northland District Health Board. It is their role to decide if an area should be closed to shellfish gathering.

It is the role of your district council to provide signage and promote any warnings. We do not publish a list of current shellfish warnings on this website.

More information is available from: 

Whangarei District Council (Media Releases section):
www.wdc.govt.nz/newsroom

Far North District Council (Health Warnings section):
http://www.fndc.govt.nz/services

Kaipara District Council:
Tel: 0800 727 059

Who to contact

For information about a specific area or a warning sign contact the on-duty Health Protection Officer at Northland Health.

Northland Health
Phone: 09 430 4100

For shellfish bag limits and size restrictions:

Ministry of Fisheries
Phone: 0800 4 RULES (0800 478 537)

For general information:

Northland Regional Council
Freephone: 0800 002 004