FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 22, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jennifer Moon, Public Information Officer
Whatcom County Health Department
Health-PIO@co.whatcom.wa.us
(360) 820-6054
https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/60039/092221-Media-Release---Bellingham-Bay-Closed-to-Shellfish-Harvest-Due-to-Elevated-Biotoxin-

Bellingham Bay Closed to Shellfish Harvest Due to Elevated Biotoxin

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 DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.              

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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