BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Officials with Whatcom County Health Department announced yesterday, September 22nd, unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin have been detected in molluscan shellfish in Bellingham Bay. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health has closed recreational harvest for all species of molluscan shellfish from Bellingham Bay south to the Skagit county border including Portage Bay, Chuckanut Bay and all of Larrabee State Park.
Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. Mussels usually contain the highest toxin concentration. Paralytic shellfish poisoning and other naturally occurring biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can harbor biotoxins and should always be discarded.
Shellfish sold in restaurants and markets have been tested before distribution and are safe to eat.
Algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected by laboratory testing. Always check the DOH website at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety or call the Washington Department of Health Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.