June 9, 2022

Whatcom County Health Department
(360) 820-6054

Shellfish Harvest Closure – Sandy Point North to the Canadian Border and Point Roberts Closed to Recreational Shellfish Harvest Due to Elevated Biotoxin

Molluscan shellfish in Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor currently have unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxin. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed recreational harvest for all species of molluscan shellfish from Sandy Point North to the Canadian border including all of Point Roberts. 

Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. Mussels usually contain the highest toxin concentration. Cooking or freezing does not destroy paralytic shellfish poisoning and other naturally occurring biotoxins. Biotoxins do not affect crab meat but can be found in “crab butter” and crab entrails. Consumers should always discard “crab butter” and crab entrails.

Shellfish growers are required to test shellfish sold in restaurants and markets before distribution. These shellfish are safe to eat.

People cannot see the toxin-containing algae; thus, inspectors need laboratory testing to detect it. Always check the DOH website at 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.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
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