Recent samples of molluscan shellfish from a variety of harvest locations in Skagit County are exhibiting elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxin (PSP). To protect public health all of Skagit County is closed to recreational shellfish harvest.
Harvest will remain closed until testing shows that marine biotoxin is no longer at a level of public health concern.
Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. Mussels usually contain the highest toxin concentration. PSP and other naturally occurring biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can harbor biotoxins so they should be discarded.
Shellfish sold in restaurants and markets are tested before distribution and are safe to eat.
The algae containing the toxins cannot be seen and must be detected by laboratory testing. Always check the Washington State Department of Health Marine Biotoxin website or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.