Discovery Bay closed to shellfish harvesting as diarrhetic shellfish poisoning risk rises

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Discovery Bay has been closed to recreational harvesting of all species of shellfish because of the risk of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, Jefferson County Public Health announced Thursday.

The state Department of Health found the marine biotoxins that cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, or DSP, in concentrations above the safe level of 16 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue, according to 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.

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.

Sequim Bay remains closed to all species because of the risk of DSP.

Elsewhere, beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery east to Dungeness Spit are open to shellfish harvesting except for butter and varnish clams, which retain toxins for up to a year.

Strait beaches from Dungeness Spit to the Jefferson County line are closed only to the harvest of varnish clams.

Although the state Department of Health reopened earlier this month Kilisut Harbor, including Mystery Bay, and Port Ludlow, including Mats Mats Bay, to shellfish harvesting except for butter clams and varnish clams, Mystery Bay State Park is closed by state Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations to the recreational harvest of clams and oysters.

Mystery Bay State Park — the only public tideland in the area — is closed to shellfishing during the peak of boating season from May 1 to Sept. 30.

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 www.doh.wa.gov or by phoning 800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in the state.

Recreational shellfishers also should consult state Fish and Wildlife at www.wdfw.wa.gov.

Last modified: July 24. 2014 7:12PM
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