Malaysia: ‘Avoid Kuantan port shellfish’

New Straits Times 15 Sep 14;

KUANTAN: Recent checks on shellfish collected from Kuantan port waters showed reduced levels of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP), as compared with when it was first detected in the seafood last month.

State Rural Development, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif said the latest samples of shellfish taken from the affected areas showed PSP readings of 1,700 microgram (μg) per 100gram of shellfish.

The level of contamination is still higher than the permissible level of about 80 μg per 100g of PSP, or red tide toxin, which could lead to symptoms leading to death.

Shafik said the Fisheries Deparment and other agencies continued to collect and test samples of shellfish from the affected area every week.

“Based on tests made by the Fisheries Department, only the flat oysters are affected by the PSP.

“But we are advising the public not to consume all types of shellfish in the area as a precautionary measure,” he told the New Straits Times when met at Kuala Penor here yesterday.

Shafik assured seafood lovers could continue enjoying shellfish sold in Pahang as these were brought in from other states in the west coast.

“Pahang is not a supplier of shellfish, such as cockles, kepah (mussels) and lala (baby clams),” he said adding that department would make an announcement when the PSP level in the flat oysters returned to safe levels.

Those who consume the affected oysters could experience symptoms, such as numbness in the neck and lips, vomiting, dizziness and shortness of breath.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Pahang Engineering Technology Faculty dean Professor Dr Zularisam Abd Wahid said high nitrogen levels in the water, caused by untreated sewage, had been identified as the cause of the contamination.

He said studies showed that the high nitrogen concentrations could trigger the blooming of poisonous microscopic algae, such as dinoflagellates, which are the main natural toxin producers
found in shellfish in tropical Asian waters.