Don't eat washed up mussels, City of Cape Town warns

2015-06-26 21:03

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Cape Town - While some have started tucking in to the mussels which have washed up along the False Bay coast, the City of Cape Town has warned the public against ingesting the seafood collected on the beach.

Council confirmed that reports have been received of mussels, starfish and some fish washing up on a number of beaches including Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Muizenberg and the stretch of coastline along Baden Powell Drive over the past two weeks.

According to a City statement, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has established the mass stranding as an annual occurrence in autumn and winter as a result of stronger groundswells and a change in current strength and direction along the northern shores of False Bay.

Hard, rocky reef is limited along this stretch, so the mussels are inclined to anchor onto any available hard surface such as shells, plastic and nylon fishing line. 

“As they grow, and more settle alongside members of the same species, they develop their own reef which can only be broken free by the strongest currents and wave action and washed up on the shore,” the statement reads. 

Mayoral committee member for health Siyabulela Mamkeli warned that in spite of it being a natural phenomenon, he advised the public not to collect and consume the mussels that have washed up and “err on the side of caution”.

“Some of the mussels have started rotting, so that is a potential risk,” he said. 

“In addition, given that shellfish are filter feeders, they are known to be the cause of food poisoning incidents – especially under the current circumstances where they have been lying on the shore for some time.” 

DAFF has also advised the City that a red tide has persisted along the False Bay coast for much of this month, although the extent of the toxicity is not known. 

“In my book, these are more than enough reasons to steer clear of eating the shellfish in question,” he said.

The department as well as the City are monitoring the situation.

Read more on:    cape town  |  marine life

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