August 29, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager
Jefferson County Public Health
SHELLFISH HARVESTING OF ALL SPECIES AT FORT FLAGLER, MYSTERY BAY AND KILISUT HARBOR CLOSED DUE TO BIOTOXINS
Port Townsend – Marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) have recently been detected at potentially lethal concentrations in shellfish samples collected from Fort Flagler State Park and Mystery Bay State Park. PSP concentrations rose to over 1,700 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish; the closure level is 80 micrograms. The Washington State Department of Health warns the public that consumption of shellfish with such high amounts of toxin is potentially lethal. Jefferson County Public Health will continue to test local beaches and will notify the public when shellfish are safe to harvest again. Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxin prior to distribution and should be safe to eat.
Danger signs have been posted at high-use beaches, warning people not to consume shellfish from this area. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. Crabmeat is not known to contain the biotoxin but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (butter).
Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae containing toxins harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begins with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing, and potentially death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately. For extreme reactions call 911.
In most cases the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected using laboratory testing. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters should check the DOH clickable map at www.doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State. Recreational harvesters should also check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/ or the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.
Always working for a safer and healthier community