Recreational shellfish harvesting OK, except in Portage Bay


The state Department of Health has lifted the ban on recreational harvesting of molluscan shellfish in Whatcom County, except for Portage Bay.

Portage Bay remains closed because levels of the biotoxins that cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning remain at unsafe levels.

Crab meat isn't affected, but "crab butter" and crab entrails can harbor the biotoxins, which are not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

Molluscan shellfish sold in stores and restaurants are tested before they are shipped to retailers and are safe to eat.

While the bioxtin levels on most Whatcom County beaches have dropped to safe levels, some are closed to harvesting because of pollution.

Public health officials said to check this Department of Health webpage for a list of pollution and biotoxin-related closures before harvesting shellfish. Type "shellfish beach closures" into the search window.

Closures also are listed on the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or

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