When the health authorities become aware of risk situations for recreational shellfish gatherers, shellfish gathering may be temporarily banned by the local mayor or the departmental prefect.
This is the case for example when:
- shellfish are heavily contaminated by biotoxins from marine phytoplankton – this situation occurs frequently in Brittany, in late spring/early summer (or sometimes in autumn), and leads to gathering bans of varying lengths in localised or wider parts of the coastline
- the results of sanitary controls show a significant decline in the bacteriological quality of shellfish
- several cases of food poisoning are reported – this may be the case, for example, during outbreaks of gastroenteritis (in winter), when the risks of viral contaminations in shellfish are higher
- incidents may have rendered shellfish unfit for consumption (e.g. incidents in the sewerage system or accidental chemical pollution) – shellfish gathering is thus temporarily banned on a preventive basis until it has been verified whether the shellfish have actually been contaminated or not.
IFREMER and ARS Bretagne have a duty to monitor the situation and to inform and advise local mayor, prefects and maritime administration bodies so that appropriate measures can be implemented to protect the health of shellfish consumers when necessary.