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Public Health News

Posted on: July 9, 2019

Shellfish Harvesting at Fort Flagler, Mystery Bay and Kilisut Harbor Closed

Shellfish Safety Information icon

July 8, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager

Jefferson County Public Health

360-385-9444 ext. 301


Shellfish Harvesting of All Species at Fort Flagler, Mystery Bay and Kilisut Harbor Closed Due to Biotoxins

Port Townsend  Shellfish samples from Mystery Bay and Fort Flagler have been found to contain elevated levels of marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). As a result, the Washington State Department of Health has closed Fort Flagler State Park, Kilisut Harbor, and Mystery Bay for recreational shellfish harvest. Danger signs are being posted at public access points warning people not to consume shellfish from this area.

Danger signs have been posted at high-use beaches, warning people not to consume shellfish from this area. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. Crabmeat is not known to contain the biotoxin but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (butter).

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae containing toxins harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begins with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing, and potentially death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately. For extreme reactions call 911.

In most cases the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected using laboratory testing. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters should check the clickable map at www.doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State. Recreational harvesters should also check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations or the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.

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Jefferson County Public Health
Always Working for a Safer and Healthier Community

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