Fisheries and Oceans Canada has had to confiscate clams and hand out tickets after seeing an increase in illegal shellfish harvesting in Nanaimo, Powell River and elsewhere. Photo submitted

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has had to confiscate clams and hand out tickets after seeing an increase in illegal shellfish harvesting in Nanaimo, Powell River and elsewhere. Photo submitted

Fisheries and Oceans Canada concerned after seizing 3,000 pounds of clams

Nanaimo and Powell River seeing increased illegal shellfish harvesting

Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials are putting out an advisory after 3,000 pounds of clams needed to be confiscated last week and earlier this week.

According to a press release from the federal department, Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast, in particular, are seeing increased illegal shellfish harvesting. The extreme low tides have drawn people to harvest clams, even on beaches that are considered contaminated and closed due to paralytic shellfish poisoning or sanitary reasons.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada issued $2,900 in infraction tickets between June 13-17, acccording to the press release, adding that “officers are working at capacity to address this issue.”

The department says it wishes to get the information out to as many people as possible because of the “serious health concerns involved, not only for personal consumption but also around the possibility that large volumes of illegally harvested and potentially contaminated clams will make their way into the consumer sales market and restaurants.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada advises shellfish harvesters to check whether fishing areas are open and shellfish are safe to consume before harvesting them.

For more information, visit these links related to shellfish contamination, sport fishing guidelines and marine toxins in bivalve shellfish, or call a toll-free, 24-hour recorded information line at 1-866-431-3474.