ILLEGALLY harvested shellfish worth more than £3,000 was seized in Southend to stop it getting into the food chain.

Enforcement officers confiscated the haul of 250kg worth of shellfish when Southend Council’s food team and Essex Police joined forces at the weekend.

It was part of an ongoing operation to tackle the growing problem of illegal shellfish harvesting in the estuary.

Martin Terry, councillor for community safety, said: “Oysters collected from Southend’s beaches are not safe for human consumption without going through a lengthy purification process or being thoroughly cooked.

“This is why we regularly undertake partnership work to tackle and disrupt this activity.

“This is also why commercial collection is tightly regulated, with a ‘docketing’ system ensuring that oysters can be traced from their original source to their point of sale.

“When oysters are illegally harvested and sold on, none of these checks are in place.

“Oysters carrying norovirus and other nasty illnesses can end up being sold on the black market with serious consequences for public health.

“What’s more, with the shellfish industry being such an important part of the borough’s economy, any illegal commercial activity undermines and undercuts our borough’s legitimate shellfish harvesters.

“The council takes the issue of illegal shellfish picking extremely seriously and so I’d like to thank our Environmental Health officers and Essex Police for their swift and decisive action in preventing over a quarter of a tonne of unsafe shellfish from entering the food chain.”

If you spot the activity taking place contact the council at