Sequim Bay closure leaves no shellfish harvesting in Clallam County

SEQUIM — Sequim Bay was closed Monday to all shellfish gathering, joining other beaches in Clallam and Jefferson counties where the popular recreational activity has been halted due to elevated levels of marine biotoxins, according to the state Department of Health.

The biotoxins can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, which can be fatal. They are undetectable by sight or smell and are not removed by cooking.

The health-related closures announced Monday are in addition to closures regulated by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services, which announced the closure of Sequim Bay.

All species of shellfish are affected, including all clams, oysters, mussels and other invertebrates such as moon snails. All areas also are closed to the sport harvest of scallops.

The toxins are created when shellfish are contaminated by algae.

Also closed is the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery east to the Jefferson County line and Dungeness Bay.

In Jefferson County, Port Townsend Bay, Kilisut Harbor, Discovery Bay and Mystery Bay were already closed to recreational shellfish harvesting of clams, oysters, mussels and other species of molluscan shellfish, extending a previous closure that covered only butter and varnish clams. The Strait of Juan de Fuca from McCurdy Point west to the Clallam County line is also closed to all harvesting.

Sequim Bay was the last beach in Clallam County to completely shut down although only butter- and varnish-clam harvesting had been allowed.

The closures do not apply to shrimp.

Crab meat does not contain biotoxins, but because guts can contain unsafe levels, officials are recommending that crab be thoroughly cleaned and the guts discarded.

For more information about the closures, go to http://tinyurl.com/PDN-ShellfishToxin.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.