By: Justicia Shipena
Deputy director of aquaculture at the fisheries ministry, Johannes Hamukwaya, says they are not sure when the concentration of Vibrio Parahaemolyticus bacteria in the sea will stabilise.
This comes as the ministry on Tuesday closed down the Walvis Bay Aquapark 4 production area for oyster harvesting and banned the sale and consumption of raw oysters after detecting Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a food-borne pathogen that causes diarrhoea.
“It depends on the environmental condition, but it usually stabilises after two or three weeks,” said Hamukwaya.
Adding that, they do not know when this specific one will end because the aquaculture department does not know when exactly it started.
He said that the closure of production and consumption is nothing special as it happens regularly.
“It is not a new thing that comes into the sea. It is just because the concentration and accumulation of the parahaemolyticus bacteria that animals feed on are too much in the water,” he said.
Hamukwaya stated that they would wait for the sea system to stabilise.
“We are still collecting water and oyster samples to test. Once we get the concentration within the limit, we can say this can also open for business and consumption,” he added.
Earlier this week, the department said it is potentially unsafe to consume oysters from Aquapark 4 until further notice.
“The ministry of fisheries and marine resources herewith warns the general public to not consume oysters from Aquapark 4, Walvis Bay production area.”
The statement also said the oyster samples from the Aquapark 4, Walvis Bay production area, were tested for microbiological contamination during an official sampling and testing.
The testing was facilitated by the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) as part of the National Shellfish Sanitation Programme.
In this vein, the ministry had said vibrio parahaemolyricus could be destroyed by properly cooking oysters.
“The symptoms of vibrio poisoning are acute dysentery and abdominal pain, accompanied by diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and water-like stools. When any of these symptoms appear, seek immediate medical assistance,” he said.
According to information from the fisheries ministry, oysters have been produced commercially in Namibia since the late 1980s, when commercial oyster farms were established. Much of Namibia’s oysters are exported to Europe, South Africa and Asia, where Hong Kong and China are the most important importers and consumers of Namibian oysters.
Namibian oysters can range in size from 30 grams (cocktail oysters) to 150 grams (full maturity).