Sequim Bay now closed to sport shellfish harvesting

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SEQUIM — Sequim Bay is now off limits for foragers of all species of shellfish.

The state Department of Health announced that elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning were found in samples of shellfish at Sequim Bay and closed the area to the recreational harvest of all species.

The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. It does not apply to shrimp.

Crab meat is not known to contain the biotoxins, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts.

Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxin prior to distribution and should be safe to eat.

Peninsula beaches

Beaches all along the North Olympic Peninsula have restrictions.

Harvesters must avoid butter clams and varnish clams on beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery east to Dungeness Spit, Discovery Bay and Port Ludlow, including Mats Mats Bay.

Beaches from Dungeness Spit east to the Jefferson County line are closed to varnish clams only.

Kilisut Harbor, including Mystery Bay, is closed to all species of shellfish.

All areas are closed for the sport harvest of scallops.

Ocean beaches are closed for the season to the harvest of all types of shellfish.

DSP symptoms

Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, or DSP, can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and chills.

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

DSP is caused by okadaic acid produced by blooms of the marine algae dinophysis.

Butter clams and varnish clams have the ability to retain toxins for up to a year or more. Areas may be closed for the sport harvest of butter clams and varnish clams when all other species are safe and open.

Recreational shellfish harvesters can get the latest information about the safety of shellfish at or by phoning 800-562-5632.

Last modified: July 12. 2014 5:32PM
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