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July 31, 2019

Health Department issues Recreational Shellfish Harvest Closure of Samish Bay

Due to a recent sample of molluscan shellfish containing elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), Samish Bay has been closed to recreational shellfish harvesting. The closure was announced on July 30, 2019 by the Washington State Department of Health.  Samish Bay will remain closed until additional sampling indicates toxin levels have declined.

Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. Mussels usually contain the highest toxin concentration. PSP and other naturally occurring biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can harbor biotoxins so they should be discarded.

Shellfish sold in restaurants and markets have been tested before distribution and are safe to eat.

Algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected by laboratory testing. Therefore, always check the DOH website at http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm  or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.