Beaches close due to marine toxin

Operations shut in Quilcene, Dabob bays

PORT TOWNSEND — Quilcene and Dabob bays have been closed to recreational shellfish harvesting because elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning were found in shellfish samples from the Quilcene Bay.

The state Department of Health closed beaches on both bays last week to recreational shellfish harvest of all shellfish species.

Danger signs have been posted at public access points warning people not to consume shellfish from these areas.

Other Hood Canal waters outside of Quilcene Bay and Dabob Bay remain under a Vibrio warning to cook all shellfish to an internal temperature of 145 degree Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, Michael Dawson, water quality manager for Jefferson County Public Health, reminded the public in a press release.

The new closure did not affect Clallam County beaches.

Sequim Bay beaches were open to harvest of clams, mussels and oysters only through April 30 this year and remains closed to harvesting of all species of shellfish.

Beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Neah Bay to the Jefferson County line, including Dungeness Bay, are closed only to the harvesting of butter and varnish clams, which can retain marine biotoxins for a year or more.

Ocean beaches are closed to all species.

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

Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) can cause gastrointestinal illness. Illness is caused by eating shellfish contaminated with toxins from the naturally occurring marine plankton Dinophysis.

DSP toxin isn’t destroyed by cooking or freezing. Symptoms of DSP include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The onset of symptoms can range from 30 minutes to four hours after consumption.

If mild symptoms occur, call a doctor and Jefferson County Public Health. For severe reactions, call 9-1-1.

The DOH Shellfish Safety Map is on the state Department of Helath website at doh.wa.gov. Information also is available at the Shellfish Safety Hotline at 1-800-562-5632.

Recreational harvesters can check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing or the shellfish rule change hotline at 1-866-880-5431.

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