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Snohomish Health District Media Releases

Posted on: September 3, 2021

Shellfish Harvesting Closed in Port Susan and Possession Sound South to King County Line

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
September 3, 2021

CONTACT:
Heather Thomas, 425.508.4980
hthomas@snohd.org

Shellfish Harvesting Closed in Port Susan and Possession Sound South to King County Line

Tests show high levels of marine biotoxin paralytic shellfish poison (PSP)


SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) are spreading in central Puget Sound. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed Port Susan and Possession Sound south to the King County line for the recreational harvest of all species of shellfish. 

The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxins prior to distribution. 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 (sometimes called the “crab 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 begin 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. That is why recreational shellfish harvesters should check the map at Washington Shellfish Safety Map or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-866-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State. Recreational harvesters should also check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish or call the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline at 1-866-880-5431.

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