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Northern Whatcom beaches closed to shellfish harvesting due to biotoxin

FERNDALE, Wash. — Whatcom County Health Department announced yesterday most Whatcom County beaches, including Lummi Island, Hale Passage, Lummi Bay, and all beaches from Sandy Point north to the Canadian border including Point Roberts are now closed to recreational harvest for all species of molluscan shellfish (e.g. oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops) due to the presence of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin (PSP).

Portage Bay, Samish Bay and Bellingham Bay south to the Skagit County border remain open. Point Roberts beaches are closed as a precaution until shellfish samples can be obtained to determine biotoxin levels.

If you harvest molluscan shellfish from local beaches, Health Department officials say to be aware:

  • PSP biotoxin can be deadly – don’t risk your life! Avoid harvesting all species of molluscan shellfish during a closure.
  • Mussels and varnish clams usually contain more toxin than other species during a closure.
  • Biotoxin levels in clams and oysters are not routinely monitored until toxin levels in mussels drop. Assume all molluscan shellfish are unsafe in the closure zone.
  • Biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking.

Shellfish sold in stores and restaurants are tested before shipping and are safe to consume.

Click for more information

Click for more information

Whatcom County Health Department officials say they will be collecting additional samples each week to monitor biotoxin levels. They will notify the public when biotoxin levels have returned below the closure limit.

Biotoxin levels can change rapidly officials warn. Shellfish harvesters are advised to “Know Before You Dig” by checking current biotoxin and pollution closures at the DOH website or by calling the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.


  1. Ryan Walter June 7, 2019

    Well, with all the irresponsible, anti-social people that let their dogs foul the ground, our water runoff systems and waterways fill up with coliform that help turn our streams, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound into a putrid fecal soup. Sorry, if you want to be a true environmentalist, you have to stop keeping dogs as pets. No exceptions.

    Not convinced? Well then, think about the salmonellosis, coccidia, cysticerosis, giardia, campylobacteriosis and other unpronounceable organisms contained in Fido’s daily constitutional that have contaminated our once-pristine environment. Scary, ain’t it?

    • Lyn Burger June 8, 2019

      Ryan Walter
      I think your comment about dogs is quite narrow. Dogs are not the major contributing animals to this problem. Your statement that we should stop keeping dogs. No exceptions is rediculous! You seem unaware that ALL animals including
      us contribute to the contamination. I dont have enough space to list them all but, this also includes all the animal life in the waters. Fish, whales, otters and seals just to mention just a few.
      How does not picking up after their dog make them anti-social?
      I do think that we need to take more precautions and responsiblity to clean up after ourselves, proper septic use should be manditory, industry as well as farms. So, just blameing the dogs and not keeping them as pets will not make a dent in the problem.
      If you were meaning to comment on all the dog feces that is left on the beaches by irresponsible dog oweners and then washed out by the tide, well that is the dog owners fault not the dogs. As always, you are just entitled to your opinion as I am mine. But it is better to have a informed opinion.

      • Marilyn Rasmussen June 8, 2019

        I think that proper septic use is already mandatory.

  2. Ryan Walter June 9, 2019


    YOU: Dogs are not the major contributing animals to this problem.
    ME: I didn’t say they were

    YOU: How does not picking up after their dog make them anti-social?
    ME: Do you really think that dog owners that let their mutts foul public spaces and other people’s lawns, (instead of their own yards) are wonderful, social people that ride around on pink, non-fouling unicorns and sprinkle magic pixie dust in everyone’s faces?

    YOU: Your statement that we should stop keeping dogs. No exceptions is rediculous! (sic)
    ME: Sorry, if you want to be a TRUE ENVIRONMENTALIST, you have to stop keeping dogs as pets. No exceptions.

    The bottom line is this, dog owners are generally unethical and irresponsible and they are causing a public health hazard. Really, there is no excuse for taking Fido out on a walk so it can relieve itself on someone else’s property. None. Period.

  3. dave doran June 9, 2019

    Low summer tides allow shallow sea water to warm.
    Warm water triggers the germination of the algae that produce biotoxins.
    Dogs and people poop has nothing to do with it.

  4. Ryan Walter June 9, 2019

    dave doran,

    I didn’t say dogs caused the biotoxin bloom, I said the fouling and coliform contamination of waterways caused by IRRESPONSIBLE, ANTI-SOCIAL DOG OWNERS is helping to turn Puget Sound into a fecal soup. That, sir, is a true statement.

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