Whakaari/White Island volcanic eruption

The Whakaari/White Island volcano erupted on 9 December 2019. Some people on the island during the eruption were killed or seriously injured. The eruption also caused environmental contamination. Find out why it's unsafe to eat fish or shellfish from the area.

Do not eat fish or shellfish from around Whakaari/White Island

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is advising the public not to consume fish, shellfish, or crayfish harvested from the shores of Whakaari/White Island and within a 1km buffer zone extending off the White Island coastline. This advice is to protect your health.

Following the eruption and ongoing volcanic activity, there have been concerns about elevated levels of environmental contaminants including heavy metals entering the sea.

You should not eat seafood from the area, including:

  • finfish
  • crayfish
  • mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin), and all other shellfish.

Cooking fish, shellfish, or crayfish will not remove the contaminants.

What to do if you feel sick after eating seafood

If you become ill after eating seafood from an area where a public health warning has been issued, either:

  • phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or
  • seek medical attention immediately.

You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit. Keep any leftover kaimoana (seafood) in case it can be tested.

Map showing the boundary lines around the island


MPI does not expect any increased food safety risks from shellfish and seafood taken from around the Bay of Plenty coastline as a result of volcanic activity. All the same, we advise you to follow these food safety guidelines when taking seafood and shellfish in the Bay of Plenty:

  • Live, fresh fish and shellfish are best.
  • Fish and shellfish should not be eaten if they are:
    • dead
    • smell like sulphur or smell “off”
    • visibly unwell.

If in doubt, don’t eat the fish or shellfish or feed them to your pets, or other animals. Proper handling, storage and cooking can reduce the risk of getting sick from your catch.

Find out more

Coastline iwi authorities contact details – Te Puni Kokiri

Food safety information on gathering kaimoana [PDF, 681 KB]

Check the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Facebook page for latest volcano activity updates

Last reviewed: