Some Peninsula beaches closed to recreational shellfish harvest

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Kilisut Harbor and Mystery Bay beaches have been closed to recreational shellfish harvesting because of high levels of the marine biotoxins that cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning.

Concentrations above the safe level of 16 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue were found in shellfish samples collected from Mystery Bay, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday.

Jefferson County Environmental Health has posted a danger sign at Mystery Bay warning people not to consume shellfish from the area.

The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish.

Fort Flagler beaches

“I want to make people aware that all of Kilisut Harbor is closed except for Fort Flagler,” said Michael Dawson, water quality lead for the county department.

Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxin prior to distribution and should be safe to eat.

Discovery Bay and Port Ludlow including Mats Mats Bay are closed to the recreational harvesting of butter and varnish clams only.

In Clallam County, beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery east to Dungeness Spit, and in Discovery Bay and the northwest area of Sequim Bay, including Middle Ground, are closed only to recreational harvest of butter and varnish clams because of marine biotoxins.

From Dungeness Spit east to the Jefferson County line and in the southern area of Sequim Bay from Paradise Cove to Blyn, the closure is only for varnish clams.

Ocean beaches in both counties are closed for the season for recreational harvest of all species of shellfish.

DSP symptoms

Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, known as DSP, can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and chills. Symptoms are similar to those of gastrointestinal or stomach flu.

Symptoms of DSP could begin within a few hours of ingesting tainted shellfish and last one to three days, the county health department said, adding that anyone with such symptoms should contact a health care provider.

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.

DSP is caused by okadaic acid produced by blooms of the marine algae dinophysis.

In most cases, the toxic algae blooms cannot be seen; they are detected only through laboratory tests.

Recreational shellfish harvesters can get the latest information about the safety of shellfish on the state website at www.doh.wa.gov or by phoning 800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in the state.

Last modified: June 19. 2014 7:44PM
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