People take advantage of good weather and a low tide to harvest shellfish at Sequim Bay State Park in April. (Laura Lofgren/Peninsula Daily News)

People take advantage of good weather and a low tide to harvest shellfish at Sequim Bay State Park in April. (Laura Lofgren/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula beaches on Strait open for most types of shellfish harvesting

PORT ANGELES — All Clallam County beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Cape Flattery to the Jefferson County line, have been re-opened to recreational shellfish harvesting, with the exception of harvesting of butter and varnish clams in Sequim and Discovery bays.

The state Department of Health announced the reopenings Monday.

Beaches had been closed to harvesting because of high levels of marine toxins found in shellfish tissue. Sequim Bay was closed because of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, while other Clallam County beaches were closed to all species for elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

The move means that all North Olympic Peninsula beaches are now open for recreational harvesting except for butter and varnish clams in Sequim and Discovery bays, and Killisut Harbor, which includes Mystery Bay.

Butter and varnish clams can retain toxins for up to a year or longer.

Other clams are now safe to harvest, according to the state, as are oysters, mussels and other invertebrates such as moon snails. Crab meat is not known to retain toxins.

All areas are closed for sport harvesting of scallops.

Ocean beaches are closed for the season.

Commercially harvested shellfish are tested for toxins prior to distribution and should be safe to eat, the state Department of Health said.

Recreational shellfish harvesters can get the latest information before they leave for the beach by visiting www.doh.wa.gov or phoning 800-562-5632.

The emergency regulation hotline is 866-880-5431.

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