Skip to content

Don't go shellfish harvesting in Delta, Lower Mainland

Harvesting in closed sites poses serious health risks
poison shellfish
There’s been no shellfish harvesting allowed for almost 50 years in the Lower Mainland.

It’s a reminder to not go clamming where prohibited.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has issued a warning to people harvesting shellfish in B.C. waters to take precautions this summer after a number of cases of Vibrio illness were recently recorded, likely due to higher concentrations of the bacteria in warm ocean waters.

In addition to reminders about safe self-harvesting and proper preparation of shellfish, the BCCDC also noted harvesting in closed sites poses serious health risks.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada closes areas to harvesting shellfish when there are toxins or bacteria present that can cause serious illness if eaten.

The DFO recently reiterated that it’s dangerous when it comes to illegal recreational shellfish harvesting in the Boundary Bay area.

DFO Detachment Commander Art Demsky told the Optimist that despite repeatedly trying to get the message out, conservation officers were still busy catching illegal crabbers.

“We’ve been seeing a lot more people out there because of COVID and the restrictions and regulations don’t seem to be having much of an impact,” he said. “We’re trying to let everyone know there’s been no shellfish harvesting allowed for almost 50 years in the Lower Mainland. There are health hazards associated to that.

“With crab harvesting, there are rules and regulations and you need a licence. There’s daily limits, there’s size limits but people, for whatever reason, seem to ignore a lot of that and we are seeing an increase in violations.”

The DFO notes non-traditional harvesters may not be aware that the entire Lower Mainland, including Boundary Bay, is closed to the harvest of bivalves because of sanitary reasons and the risk of toxic shellfish poisoning.

The DFO also notes fisheries officers regularly patrol the area and adjacent beaches for enforcement and public education outreach.

In a recent letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, Delta Mayor George Harvie said there’s a noticeable increase in illegal crabbing and harvesting of bivalve.

The city doesn’t have the jurisdiction to conduct enforcement, so Delta is requesting fisheries officers increase enforcement and add multi-lingual signage to discourage illegal shellfish harvesting, said Harvie.

“Bivalve shellfish in the area can be contaminated with dangerous toxins, which unassuming harvesters may be consuming, putting themselves and their families at risk. In addition, while crabbing is legal with a licence, illegal crabbing appears to be on the rise this year. We are seeking your assistance to curb both of these practices to protect people’s health and reduce the environmental impact on local ecosystems,” Harvie wrote.

The BCCDC’s Shellfish Harvesting Status Map identifies B.C. shellfish harvesting closures  -