Kitsap Public Health District announced Tuesday that recreational shellfish harvesting in Liberty Bay is closed due to high levels of the marine biotoxin paralytic shellfish poison (PSP).
The closure affects the harvesting of all species of clams, oysters, and mussels.
While shrimp and crab are not included in the closure, it is recommended that all crabs be cleaned prior to cooking and that the “crab butter” be appropriately discarded.
Commercially harvested shellfish in stores and restaurants are tested for PSP and other toxins prior to distribution and are deemed safe to eat.
Recreational harvesters should always check the safety status of shellfish harvesting in their areas. Kitsap Public Health District has a list of links for harvesters to check out.
Kitsap Public Health District states that symptoms of PSP can include tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes of eating toxic shellfish or may take an hour or two to develop. Those symptoms may progress to tingling of fingers and toes and then the loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing. Some experience nausea or a sense of floating.
Consuming enough toxin could cause paralysis in the muscles of the chest and abdomen causing the consumer to suffocate.
Death from PSP has occurred in less than 30 minutes of consumption.
Kitsap Public Health District, Washington State Department of Health and Clean Water Kitsap are partners in testing shellfish from 12 locations in Kitsap County. Samples for this closure were collected Sept. 30 and the results showed 91 micrograms of toxin per 100 grams of shellfish tissue. Harvesting closes when toxins reach or exceed 80 micrograms.
Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish from the affected areas.