[12 August/Radio NZ]

According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, there was an abnormally high number of toxic algal blooms around New Zealand this winter. There were warnings in place against shellfish collection due to algae in many regions. Specialist advisor, Brian Roughan, said it was unclear why the blooms had fired up now. The blooms were all a type of algae called Alexandrium cattenella. In May, it was at its peak in Marlborough, and caused the closure of 150 mussel farms. Mr Roughan said the bloom was no longer at the farms, however farmers were still waiting for toxins to clear from the mussels. Warning signs were put up on beaches and people were urged to keep an eye on the MPI website or subscribe to biotoxin alerts.