December 13, 2018

Washington Closes Shellfish Harvesting Areas

Shellfish harvesting areas near public beaches in Washington state have been closed to recreational and sport harvest due to the dangers of fecal contamination and marine biotoxins. Commercial harvesting may also be restricted based on selective testing, according to state health authorities.

Shellfish SelectionIn addition, some areas have been listed as “threatened” meaning they are reaching the cut-off limit of what is acceptable in terms of water pollution. “If water quality in the threatened shellfish areas gets worse we’ll have to restrict or close harvesting there,” Bob Woolrich, Growing Area Section Manager said in a statement. “Having an area listed as ‘threatened’ is a signal to communities to identify and correct pollution problems.”

In some areas, pollution-mitigation efforts are underway. “This early warning helps protect the valuable shellfish resources in Washington state,”Marc Daily, interim executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership said in a statement. “Our partners have been successful in taking this information and improving water quality by finding and fixing sources of fecal bacteria from on-site septic systems and farms. We expect that to continue. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Department of Health, local governments, farmers, conservation districts, private landowners and so many others, Puget Sound is seeing real, measurable improvement.”

Consumers should take note of areas where biotoxins are the reason for closure when they are going to harvest shellfish for themselves or others. Biotoxins are deadly and can not be destroyed by cooking. For information on shellfish harvesting area closures for biotoxins click here. Or, click here to view a clickable map.

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