Lots of oyster lovers on hand last Saturday
By Jack Kintner
A county-wide red tide closure didn’t stop the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm from serving 100 dozen locally grown oysters at a well-attended open house last Saturday at the Blaine marina, thanks to special permission from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
Oyster farm coordinator Geoff Menzies said that toxin levels in local mussels, the indicator species, increased rapidly last week, prompting the DOH to close Whatcom County beaches.
“But we sent our oysters in to the DOH for paralytic shellfish poison testing on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Both samples came back with PSP levels well below the closure threshold so they gave us the green light for the open house,” Menzies said.
The oysters were harvested on the second day of testing by volunteers Tom Cullen, Ron Snyder, Catherine Taggett, Bob Dales and Burch Kelley. “We served all the oysters and another 50 pounds of clams,” said Taggett, who estimated the festival crowd at about 200 people.
Nine tours of the oyster farm’s two beds were conducted
for about 100 people during the day, four on the Plover passenger
ferry led by Snyder and five by Menzies on the oyster farm’s
boat called the Beast.
“The last tour was completely filled with Semiahmoo First Nation people, including chief Bernard Charles,” Menzies said.
The Semiahmoo First Nation Reserve is on Semiahmoo Bay immediately north of the Canadian border on the south side of the mouth of Little Campbell River.
Another guest was the dairy farmer who had a mechanical failure which accidentally discharged 66,000 gallons of manure into the south fork of Dakota Creek three weeks ago, which resulted in the Washington State Department of Health closing the area for one week to shellfish harvesting.
Menzies did not identify the landowner but did say that he’d talked with him after the spill “and suggested that he come and learn more about the watershed. He showed up, and it was great to have him there.”