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September 9, 2021

Health Department issues Recreational Shellfish Harvest Closure for South Skagit, Similk Bay, and Deception Pass

Due to recent samples of shellfish containing elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins, the following areas have been closed to all shellfish species for recreational shellfish harvesting:


Samples of blue mussels from Utsaladay Bay on September 5, 2021 contained 90 micrograms PSP/100 grams of shellfish tissue. Samples of blue mussels from Penn Cove collected on September 6, 2021 contained 860 ug/100g. The Washington State action level for closures is any sample in exceedance of 80 micrograms/100 g.

Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. 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 and should be discarded during PSP advisories. Algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen and must be detected by laboratory testing.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning closures are also currently impacting Whatcom, Island, and Snohomish counties. Continued sampling will determine when closures will be lifted or expanded. For complete beach closure information call the Marine Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Shellfish Safety Map.

Early symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning can set in within 30 minutes of shellfish consumption and may include: numbness and tingling around the lips/tongue, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, numbness in arms/legs, muscular paralysis or coordination loss, dizziness and incoherence, headache, rapid pulse, and/or respiratory distress.  If you experience any of these symptoms after eating shellfish, have someone take you to the Emergency Room immediately or call 911 for assistance.

Find more information about recreational shellfish safety, go to: Shellfish Safety Map. For questions, please contact Samantha Russell at srussell@co.skagit.wa.us or call (360) 416-1500.