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July 3, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Health department closes Quartermaster Harbor to shellfish harvesting

The Washington Department of Health has closed recreational shellfish harvesting at Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon-Maury Island because of dangerous levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison, the agency announced on Tuesday.

The closure applies to clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other mollusks, but not to shrimp or crabs. The poison, which can be life-threatening, is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

Crab meat isn’t known to contain the toxin, but the guts of the animal can contain it, according to a release from Public Health – Seattle & King County. Commercial-harvesting beaches are sampled separately, and their products “should be safe to eat,” the release said.

Signs warning people to not harvest shellfish there are being posted by Public Health – Seattle & King County, according to the release.

The state health department warns that people cannot visually determine whether the shellfish toxin is present, and the notion that a “red tide” is a sign of its presence is misleading and inaccurate.

Updates on the closure at Quartermaster Harbor or the safety of any other recreational harvest areas are available on the health department’s Biotoxin Hotline at 800-562-5632 or on its biotoxin website.

Comments | Topics: Paralytic Shellfish Poison, Public Health - Seattle & King County, Quartermaster Harbor

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