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Shellfish safety

Eating contaminated shellfish can be life-threatening!

Contaminated shellfish may smell, taste and look normal and aren’t made safe by cooking. Protect the health and safety of shellfish consumers with these 3 simple steps:

  1. Check for closures due to contamination. Harvesting areas are regularly monitored for marine toxins and sanitary conditions and closures may be implemented for health and safety purposes. Contamination closures change frequently and an area that is open in the morning can close later that day, so check our website for openings every time you head out to harvest.
  2. Check planned bivalve shellfish harvesting closures. We proactively close areas that are likely to be unsafe for shellfish harvesting at certain times of year.
  3. Never hang bivalve shellfish off docks or the side of a vessel while travelling. Waters could be contaminated.

It is illegal to harvest shellfish from closed or contaminated areas.

Once you confirm that an area is safe to harvest in, remember to check the current sport fishing regulations to make sure that it is not only safe, but legal to harvest in that area.

Species-specific safety


Bivalves are filter feeders that strain particulates from the water. Because of this, they can accumulate contaminants, making them unsafe to eat in some circumstances. Always check for closures due to contamination before harvesting bivalves.


Crabs can become contaminated around industrial sites. When contamination occurs, it only affects the crab’s hepatopancreas. The rest of the crab is safe to eat. Check your planned fishing site's area page for dioxin consumption advisories before heading out.

Snails and moon snails

Snails, including whelks, tritons and periwinkles, and moon snails are carnivorous and can accumulate toxins and pollutants from eating contaminated bivalves. We recommend you not harvest them from areas that are closed to bivalve harvesting.

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