PSP prompts closure of area to shellfish harvesting

The state Department of Health has closed the area between the Lyre River to Dungeness Bay to recreational shellfish harvesting because of high levels of the marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning found in samples of shellfish.

The state and Clallam County announced the closure Thursday. Dungeness Bay already was closed to shellfish harvesting because of biotoxins.

Clallam County beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches from Cape Flattery east to the Lyre River are open. In Jefferson County, beaches on Discovery Bay and Kilisut Harbor, including Mystery Bay, are closed to the harvesting of butter clams and varnish clams but open to other types of shellfish.

All Pacific Oceans beaches are closed for the season for all species.

Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing and potentially death.

Toxins cannot be detected by sight or smell. Neither cooking nor freezing destroys biotoxins.

All species means clams, oysters, mussels and other invertebrates including the moon snail. The closures do not apply to shrimp.

Crab meat has not been known to contain biotoxins, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (butter).

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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