Biotoxins close Sequim Bay to shellfish harvesting

SEQUIM — Sequim Bay has been closed to the recreational harvesting of all species of shellfish due to a high level of marine biotoxins, the state Department of Health reported Tuesday.

Discovery Bay is open to the harvesting of all shellfish except butter clams and varnish clams, while the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery to Discovery Bay is open to all species.

In Jefferson County, beaches at Oak Bay and Port Ludlow, including Mats Mats Bay, and Kilisut Harbor including Mystery Bay are closed to the harvesting of butter clams and varnish clams.

Butter clams and varnish clams are species that hold onto toxins for a long period of time.

Pacific Ocean beaches are seasonally closed to harvesting of all species of shellfish.

DOH said closed to “all species” refers to clams (including geoduck), oysters, mussels and other invertebrates such as moon snails.

All areas also are closed to the sport harvest of scallops.

The closure does not apply to shrimp. Crab meat is not known to contain the biotoxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts.

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

To find out which areas in Washington are safe to harvest shellfish, check the Shellfish Safety map at www.doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632.

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