The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has closed part of Nova Scotia’s southern coast to shellfish harvesting after measuring high counts of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP).

Shellfish harvesting along the coast stretching from Stonehurst East, at the southern edge of Mahone Bay, to Cole Harbour has been banned.

Affected areas include Mahone Bay, St. Margarets Bay, Blind Cove, Terence Bay and Cole Harbour.

The harvesting ban which includes all bivalve molluscs — clams, mussels, oysters and scallops — came into effect on Tuesday.

In the news release, DFO said shellfish closures can change frequently and as a result harvesters are encouraged to check with their local fisheries offices for a complete listing of current closures.

Paralytic shellfish toxins are a group of natural toxins that sometimes accumulate in bivalve shellfish that include oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles.

The toxins can't be destroyed by cooking.

Symptoms of PSP include tingling and numbness of the lips, tongue, hands and feet, and difficulty swallowing.

In severe situations, this can proceed to difficulty walking, muscle paralysis, respiratory paralysis and death in as quickly as 12 hours.