News Flash

Public Health News

Posted on: July 31, 2019

Shellfish harvesting closed in Discovery Bay due to biotoxins; Partial reopening in other areas

July 31, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager

Jefferson County Public Health

360-385-9444 ext. 301


Shellfish harvesting closed in Discovery Bay due to biotoxins; Partial reopening in other areas

Port Townsend – Shellfish samples from Discovery Bay 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 Discovery Bay for recreational shellfish harvest. Danger signs have been posted at public access points warning people not to consume shellfish from this area. However, Mystery Bay and Kilisut Harbor, including Fort Flagler, have reopened to recreational harvest of all shellfish species except butter and varnish clams. Butter and varnish clams are still closed in those bays due to the fact that they retain toxins longer.

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 begin 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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