The state Department of Health has closed some beaches in Whatcom County to recreational shellfish harvesting because the biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning has increased to unsafe levels.
The ban is for all shellfish on beaches from Birch Point south to Sandy Point, including Birch Bay. Most of those beaches had just been re-opened to recreational harvesting a week ago after tests showed the biotoxin had dropped to safe levels.
Meanwhile, Portage Bay remains closed to the harvest of varnish clams.
Paralytic shellfish poisoning can be life-threatening. Algae containing the biotoxin can’t be seen and is determined by testing. The state regularly tests for biotoxin levels.
Before harvesting any shellfish, such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, always check the biotoxin website at doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm or call the biotoxin hot line at 1-800- 562-5632.