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Posted on: August 28, 2020

Quilcene and Dabob Bay Closed Due to Biotoxins

01 Danger - Toxic Shellfish

August 28, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager
Jefferson County Public Health
360-385-9444 x301

Port Townsend- Washington State Department of Health has closed Quilcene Bay and Dabob Bay for the recreational harvest of all species of shellfish due to marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). In Jefferson County, most of the recreational shellfish harvesting beaches have been closed due the rapid spread of PSP. In addition, levels of PSP in Discovery Bay have increased to as high as 977 micrograms of biotoxin per 100 grams of shellfish. The closure level is 80 micrograms. Danger signs have been posted at public access points by Jefferson County Public Health.

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 (sometimes called the “crab 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 map at 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 or the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.

Due to COVID-19, the State of Washington requires social distancing during all outdoor activities including recreational shellfish harvesting. If six-foot distancing is not possible, wear masks. Stay close to home and keep your group size small.


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

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