Men caught in Southampton harvesting 'poisonous' clams

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Two men have been caught harvesting thousands of potentially poisonous shellfish in waters containing "high levels of E. coli".

Police ordered the fishermen to return up to 3,500 Manila clams to Bird Pile in Southampton Water after being alerted at about 13:00 BST.

The catch was found in up to seven large buckets on their fishing vessel.

Harvesting shellfish in the area is banned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on public health grounds.

The FSA said tests in the area had revealed "consistently high levels of E. coli".

Some strains of the bacteria can cause severe diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and fever, and can cause fatal kidney failure in children.

Sgt Stu Tribbeck, from Hampshire police's marine unit, said officers were alerted by Southampton port's traffic monitoring service.

No arrests

He said: "We had already seen that boat out and challenged the man who was on there and got him to return £600 worth of catch, which was Manila clams, to the water.

"The intention of that fisherman was to sell that product. We have managed to stop it being sold for public consumption."

Officers who were travelling on the force's new patrol launch Preventer did not arrest the men, who are aged in their 20s and 40s, after they agreed to return their catch.

The FSA banned shellfish harvesting at 11 areas in England and Wales from September on the grounds of public safety.

The areas include Bailey's Hard in Beaulieu, the Itchen River above Itchen Bridge, Hythe, Dodnor at Medina on the Isle of Wight and Lytchett Bay in Poole.

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