Northern Whatcom County beaches closed to recreational shellfish harvest


The state Department of Health has closed beaches in northern Whatcom County to recreational shellfish harvesting because tests showed unsafe levels of the biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning.

The closure, which was announced Wednesday, June 11, is from Point Whitehorn north to the Canadian border.

Biotoxin levels have risen rapidly during the past two weeks, health officials said.

The ban is for molluscan shellfish, including clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. Mussels usually contain the highest concentration of toxin, health officials said.

The toxin, which can't be destroyed by cooking or freezing, can cause flu-like symptoms and sicken people who eat tainted shellfish. Symptoms of DSP include diarrhea and vomiting, and last up to three days.

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

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

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or .

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service