Elevated biotoxin levels prompt local shellfish harvest closure

Clams, mussels, oysters, scallops impacted
June 9, 2022 at 4:15 p.m.

Staff Reporter

The Washington State Department of Health closed recreational harvest of molluscan shellfish on June 9 in Point Roberts and from Sandy Point North to the Canadian border due to elevated levels of biotoxin. 

A Whatcom County Health Department press release said that molluscan shellfish in Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor in Blaine have “unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin.” 

Clams, mussels, oysters and scallops are molluscan shellfish, but the Health Department said mussels often contain the highest levels of toxins. Cooking or freezing does not eliminate naturally occurring biotoxins. Biotoxins can also be found in “crab butter” and crab entrails. 

The department said since shellfish growers must test shellfish sold in restaurants and markets before distribution, those are safe to eat.  

Whatcom County Health Department said people should always check the Department of Health website or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562- 5632 before harvesting shellfish in Washington state. 

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