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Public Health News

Posted on: September 8, 2020

Hood Canal Growing Area #1 Closed Due to Biotoxins

Jefferson County Public Health Logo

September 8, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager
Jefferson County Public Health
360-385-9444 x301

Marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) have continued to spread, and the Washington State Department of Health has closed the Hood Canal #1 growing area for the recreational harvest of all species of shellfish. This includes some areas south of the Hood Canal Bridge, such as Hicks County Park, Case Shoal, DNR 57 B and DNR 59. In Jefferson County, most of the recreational shellfish harvesting beaches have been closed due the rapid spread of PSP. Danger signs have been posted at public access points by Jefferson County Public Health. All previous closures from this summer are still in effect.

The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxins prior to distribution. 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 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 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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