Mystery Bay, Kilisut Harbor reopened to shellfish harvest of all but butter, varnish clams

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Mystery Bay and Kilisut Harbor have reopened for recreational shellfish harvesting of all species except butter and varnish clams, the Jefferson County Health Department said Thursday.

Levels of the marine biotoxin that cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, or DSP, are currently below the safe level of 16 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue, according to Michael Dawson, water quality lead for the county department.

The area remains closed to the harvest of butter and varnish clams due to their tendency to retain marine biotoxins for a long time, up to a year.

Kilisut Harbor and Mystery Bay beaches were closed to recreational harvesting of all species of shellfish in June because of high levels of the marine biotoxins that cause DSP.

Commercially harvested shellfish are tested for toxin prior to distribution and should be safe to eat.

The state Department of Health closed Sequim Bay to harvesting of all species of shellfish earlier this month because of elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes DSP.

The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. It does not apply to shrimp.

Crab meat is not known to contain the biotoxins, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts.

Closures to the harvest of butter and varnish clams remain in effect for Discovery Bay; Port Ludlow, including Mats Mats Bay; Kilisut Harbor, including Mystery Bay; and beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery east to Dungeness Spit.

All areas are closed for the sport harvest of scallops.

Ocean beaches are closed for the season to the harvest of all types of shellfish.

Warning signs have been posted at high-use beaches.

DSP can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and chills.

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

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

Last modified: July 17. 2014 10:44PM
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