Fish and shellfish report reveals most are safe to eat

A report released earlier in the year confirms that most fish and shellfish found in waters around Ōtautahi/Christchurch are safe to eat.

The Food Safety of Fish & Shellfish in Ōtautahi/Christchurch ecology report (PDF File, 4.08MB), prepared by EOS Ecology, tested fish and shellfish in the following locations for heavy metals (including cadmium, lead, arsenic, copper and zinc), E. coli (cockles only) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Specifically:

  • yellowbelly flounder and yelloweyed mullet – within the deeper channels of the estuary;
  • cockles – within the estuary near the old discharge point of the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTP), near the McCormacks Bay causeway and off Southshore Spit;
  • pipis – within the estuary, near the estuary mouth; and
  • shortfin eels – Ōtakaro/Avon River (downstream of Anzac Drive) and Ōpāwaho/Heathcote River (downstream of Opawa Road).

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFSC) and MPI (2018) food standards were used to assess whether the samples taken were below or above safe eating limits. In summary, the report found the following:

  • All shellfish and fish had heavy metal concentrations below existing limits and are safe for consumption.
  • All PCBs tested for in fish were below lab testing limits, meaning they are safe for consumption.
  • E. coli levels in cockles collected from the causeway and Southshore sites were at a safe level for consumption. However, E. coli levels at the WTP site varied widely and exceeded a number of food safety limits (from both the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFSC) and MPI).

For more detail and a full explanation of the methodology and findings, read the full report (PDF File, 4.08MB).

View current health warnings.

Monitoring water quality, sediment and ecology

We have been monitoring water quality, sediment and ecology at 10 sites in and just outside the estuary since 2007.

The most recent report (PDF File, 2.13MB) shows that water quality at the estuary sites ranges from very poor through to good.

Access data analysis and annual reports in our document library.