South Ayrshire Council has today closed two classified shellfish harvesting areas covering North Bay, Barassie, Culzean Bay, Croy, Turnberry, and Meikle Craigs at Prestwick to all commercial shellfish harvesting due to high levels of marine biotoxin in shellfish.
Marine algae sometimes produce toxins which can accumulate in the flesh of shellfish and cause amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP) in humans if consumed. Symptoms of ASP can appear up to 24 hours after ingestion of affected shellfish and include gastrointestinal disorders (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) with higher doses leading to more serious neurological problems (confusion, short-term memory loss, disorientation, seizure, coma), particularly in elderly patients.
The levels of biotoxin came to light as a result of routine sampling under Food Standards Scotland's Algal Toxins in Shellfish Monitoring Programme. The restrictions will remain in place until the results of further sampling show that marine algae levels or shellfish flesh samples have reduced to an acceptable level.
The closure to commercial fishing does not affect bathing conditions at any of the sites. However, members of the public are strongly advised not to gather shellfish from the shores at Barassie, Croy, Turnberry, Culzean or Prestwick for their personal consumption due to the serious potential health risk. Warning signs have been posted along the affected coastline while the closure remains in place.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service have advised that as a precaution any dog entering the sea in affected areas should be hosed down afterwards and also not to allow dogs to consume shellfish from affected areas.
Further information on this incident is available from the South Ayrshire Council website.