Washington State Department of Health (DOH) closed recreational shellfish harvesting for all species of molluscan shellfish in Blaine, Birch Bay and Point Roberts after biotoxins reached unsafe levels in the shellfish on June 9.
Molluscan shellfish in Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor have too high levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin, according to a June 9 Whatcom County Health Department announcement on the state’s closure. The closure impacts molluscan shellfish – clams, mussels, oysters and scallops – from Sandy Point on Lummi Nation’s reservation to the U.S./Canada border and Point Roberts.
Commercial harvesting is not included in the ban, meaning shellfish from local places like Drayton Harbor Oyster Company remain safe to eat. Shellfish growers are required to test shellfish before selling, according to the health department.
Cooking or freezing doesn’t destroy the shellfish poisoning, according to the health department. Biotoxins are usually most concentrated in mussels. Although the toxins don’t affect crab meat, people need to discard crab butter and entrails because biotoxins can be found there.
Health department officials ask people to check the state department of health website at doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety or call the DOH toxin line at 800/562-5632.
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