Toxic shellfish ban in Portugal

Bivalve shellfish harvesting has been banned in some regions across the country’s coastline, including in the Vila Real de Santo António-Tavira area, due to the presence of toxins, according to the Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA).

The institute has stated that the ban was the result of the presence of a substance known as phytoplankton in the molluscs which can lead to toxin levels above the permitted limits, possibly causing diarrhoea or food poisoning if consumed.

In the Algarve, the ban has affected all of Vila Real de Santo António and Tavira’s shellfish, while gatherers in the Portimão-Lagos and Olhão-Faro areas are only forbidden to capture ‘conquilhas’, the typical bean clams eaten throughout the region.

The prohibition on mussels (‘mexilhão’) between Portimão and Lagos, however, has been lifted.

In other areas of Portugal, such as the Ria de Aveiro, the Estuário do Mondego and the coastal zone between Nazaré and Figueira da Foz, the restriction applies to all of the bivalves. In Viana do Castelo and Matosinhos, mussels are a no-go. However, between Sines and Setúbal, white clams no longer fall under the prohibition list.