How to avoid getting sick from shellfish you’ve harvested from the beach (brochure)
1Check if area is open for harvesting
Harvest in approved, open areas only. One of the biggest concerns for shellfish are biotoxins that can survive cooking –
biotoxins can kill you!
The BCCDC shellfish harvesting mapping tool is designed for public health officials and members of the public to view shellfish harvesting area data using a Google Maps application. Users can quickly view and search the status of shellfish harvesting areas along the coast of British Columbia.
Please note that Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the authoritative source for biotoxin and sanitary contamination information, and users should consult with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website for the latest information. The BCCDC has created this map to present information from Fisheries and Oceans Canada in a more user friendly manner. The map tool also includes a shellfish dictionary to describe the different species of shellfish found on the British Columbia coast.
The BCCDC shellfish harvesting mapping tool is compatible with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera and Apple Safari web browsers; the mapping tool is not compatible with Internet Explorer. Some users have reported the absence of shellfish harvesting status shading (e.g. green, yellow and red shading) due to workplace firewall rules; try re-loading the webpage to resolve this issue. The map should appear as illustrated in the above image. Otherwise, please consult with your Information Technology department if you encounter technical issues.
2Keep shellfish cold
- If you are self-harvesting oysters for raw consumption, place oysters in a chilled cooler right away. This will prevent bacteria naturally present in the ocean water from multiplying and making you sick.
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus can be avoided by cooking shellfish; Shellfish advice for consumers.
3Harvest on receding tideShellfish Red Tide Updates
604.666.2828 | Toll Free
- Harvest shellfish when the tide is going out, or on a receding tide. Bacteria naturally present in the shellfish grow rapidly at warmer temperatures – like when they are exposed to the sun and warm air temperatures. When the shellfish are under water the temperature is often cooler, and they are pumping water in and out and clearing out the bacteria.
- Once you’ve harvested the shellfish put them into a cooler with ice packs to keep the temperature low.
- Store your shellfish in the refrigerator and cook them thoroughly –
If you plan on going out on the water or to the beach and want to catch fish or dig for clams you will need a personal fishing license. There are separate licenses for saltwater (tidal water) and freshwater (non-tidal water). Be aware that you need a tidal waters license for harvesting shellfish. There are limits to the amount of shellfish you can catch and you should also be careful of harvesting the correct size of shellfish. There are also species that are protected and banned from harvesting, such as abalone, sturgeon and others, under the Species at Risk Act.
Shellfish Poster in Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean
The information on these pages represent the work we do on behalf of the public, industry and government. Some of this information was written for the general public and some was written in technical language for public health.
Food Protection Services • 604.707.2440
NCC for Environmental Health • 604.829.2551
Poison Control Centre • 604.682.5050 (local) or 1.800.567.8911 (toll free)