Shellfish and fishing warning for the Swan River: Pelican Point and Matilda Bay to Garrett Road Bridge

15 March 2019

The Department of Health is advising people not to eat fish, crabs or shellfish collected from within the Swan River, extending from Pelican Point and Matilda Bay, upstream to the Garrett Road Bridge. This area includes Matilda Bay, Perth Waters, Elizabeth Quay, Barrack Street Jetty, Claisebrook Cove and Ascot Waters.

Two people in canoes on the river

These algae, which are not visible to the naked eye, can produce a toxin which could be absorbed by filter feeding shellfish and potentially consumed by crabs and finfish to a lesser extent. Shellfish includes oysters, mussels, clams, pipis, scallops, cockles and razor clams. The algae may be distinguishable in some areas by a red discolouration in the water.

It is important to note that cooking will not destroy these toxins.

People who eat wild shellfish, crabs or fish collected from this affected Swan River area may experience symptoms including:

  • tingling or numbness of the lips
  • prickliness of the fingertips and toes
  • nausea or vomiting
  • impaired balance
  • dizziness
  • slurred speech
  • double vision
  • weakness
  • difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • loss of fluids
  • diarrhoea.

In severe cases PSP may cause muscular paralysis.

Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention, particularly if they feel any respiratory distress.

Do not discard uneaten portions of mussels or other shellfish as these may assist with determining a likely cause of any symptoms.

As a general rule, avoid eating wild shellfish collected recreationally as their safety cannot be guaranteed.

Farmed shellfish purchased in supermarkets and other commercial outlets in WA are not affected as there is a strict quality-assurance program to ensure they are safe for consumption.

Other recreational activities including swimming, skiing and boating are not likely to be affected by this microalgae species, but swimming should be avoided in areas of discoloured water.

Find out about wild shellfish collection.