Most Whatcom County beaches safe for shellfish harvesting


Most Whatcom County beaches have been reopened to shellfish harvesting after levels of the biotoxins that cause paralytic and diarrhetic shellfish poisoning dropped to safe levels, according to the state Department of Health.

Beaches in southern parts of the county have been closed to harvesting since mid-September. Northern ones reopened in November after being closed in October.

However, Portage Bay remains closed to harvesting of all species. All of Sandy Point south to the Whatcom/Skagit border is open to all harvesting except butter and varnish clams.

The algae that contain the toxins can't be seen and must be detected through laboratory testing.

Shellfish in stores and restaurants are tested for marine toxins before going to market and are safe to eat.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning can be life-threatening. Symptoms of DSP include diarrhea and vomiting, and last up to three days.

Harvesters should check the DOH website, or the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before collecting any shellfish.

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