Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay closed to shellfish harvesting because of red tide

POULSBO — Marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning — also known as PSP or red tide — have been detected in high levels in shellfish samples from Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay.

As a result, the state Department of Health and the Kitsap County Health District have closed the bay for all species of clams, mussels and oysters until further notice.

Samples of mussels collected from Liberty Bay on Oct. 3 contained PSP toxin concentrations of 95 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue, the Health District reported. Beaches are closed when the toxin level exceeds 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.

Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish from the bay.

A PSP advisory for butter clams only remains in effect for the eastern shorelines of Kitsap County from Point Jefferson, south to include all of Bainbridge Island, and then south again to include Blake Island. This area includes Miller Bay, Port Madison Bay, and Agate Passage, including all inlets, bays, and harbors. Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect butter clams from these areas.

Shrimp and crab are not included in this closure, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking and the “crab butter” should be discarded, the Health District reported. Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxin prior to distribution, and are safe to eat, according to the Health District.

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening, the Health District reported. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae that contains toxins that are harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing and potentially death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider. For extreme reactions, call 911.

In most cases, the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen and must be detected usinglaboratory testing. The Health District reported it will continue to monitor shellfish at Kitsap County beaches, and notify the public if the levels of PSP toxin become unsafe in other areas.

For current shellfish closures within Kitsap County, call the hotline number, 1-800-2BE-WELL, or visit For closures in other areas of Washington, call the state Department of Health’s Red Tide Hotline at 1-800-562-5632, or visit



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