Northern Whatcom County beaches closed to recreational shellfish harvest

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 11, 2014 

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, doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm, or the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before collecting any shellfish.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com .

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