Penn Cove, Saratoga Passage, Holmes Harbor closed to shellfish harvesting due to marine biotoxins

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Anglers should not eat clams, mussels, oysters, geoduck clams and scallops from Penn Cove, Saratoga Passage and Holmes Harbor due to dangerous levels of biotoxins, officials said this week.

All shellfish harvested from areas after Monday August 16 must be disposed of.

The closure does not include crab, according to information from the state Department of Health and the Natural Resources Division of the Island County Department of Public Health.

Although the crab feeds on contaminated shellfish, the biotoxin levels are not high enough to make the crab meat unfit for consumption. However, toxins tend to build up in the yellow-white fat and guts of a crab and should be avoided.

Marine biotoxins occur naturally in small amounts and are produced by certain types of phytoplankton. The level of biotoxins can become dangerous during the summer months due to the combination of warmer temperatures, sunlight and nutrient-rich waters that create a “bloom,” according to the Department of Health. ‘State.

Shellfish like clams, mussels and oysters can be particularly affected by biotoxins because they are filter feeders and toxins can build up in their flesh. Biotoxins are not harmful to the shellfish themselves, but can be dangerous to animals and humans if consumed. Cooking the affected shellfish will not rid them of toxins, and fishermen simply have to wait for the biotoxin levels to return to lower levels.

Fishermen should check the State Department of Health Shellfish Safety Card at bit.ly/2WtgeJh before taking a shovel.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated which agency issued the seashell closure. It has been corrected. We regret the error.


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