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Shellfish harvesting closure covers west shoreline of Bainbridge Island
The Kitsap Public Health District has closed waters to shellfish harvesting on the west shoreline of Bainbridge Island from the Agate Pass Bridge south to Point White after marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning were detected in high levels in shellfish samples from the Brownsville Marina in Port Orchard Narrows.
The closure also includes the east shoreline from Illahee State Park north to the Agate Pass Bridge, including all bays and inlets (except Liberty Bay).
The ban on recreational shellfish harvesting covers all species of clams, oysters and mussels.
Samples of mussels collected on Monday, July 14 from the Brownsville Marina contained paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxin concentrations of 369 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue. Shorelines are closed to harvesting when toxin levels exceed 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.
Existing biotoxin closures for all species of shellfish are in effect for all of Dyes Inlet and Port Washington Narrows.
Additional biotoxin closures for butter clams and varnish clams remains in effect on Kitsap County’s eastern shoreline from the Point No Point in Hansville south to the south shoreline of Bainbridge Island and closures for varnish clams only remains in effect for Yukon Harbor and Colvos Passage to the Pierce County line.
Signs have been posted at public beaches to warn people against collecting shellfish from the closure areas.
Shrimp and crab are not included in this closure, health officials said, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking, and the “crab butter” should be discarded. Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxins prior to distribution, and are safe to eat.
Health officials warned that marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening. 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 using laboratory testing.
Kitsap Public Health will continue to monitor shellfish at 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 at 1-800-2BE-WELL, or visit www.kitsappublichealth.org.
For closures in other areas of Washington, call the Washington State Department of Health’s Red Tide Hotline at 1-800-562-5632, or visit www.doh.wa.gov.