Blaine and Birch Bay beaches closed to shellfish harvesting

Less than a week after reopening most of the county’s beaches for shellfish harvesting, the Whatcom County Health Department closed all beaches to recreational shellfish harvesting north of Sandy Point.

On May 6, the department announced they would be closing the beaches due to high levels of PSP biotoxin. PSP is most commonly found in mussels but can be found in all molluscan shellfish and in some parts of crabs. PSP cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing, and if ingested can cause symptoms such as tingling lips, difficulty breathing, paralysis and, in rare cases, death.

The department had reopened all county beaches except for Portage Bay on April 29. Tom Kunesh, environmental health supervisor for the department, said this illustrates just how quickly conditions can change.

Check the department of health’s website to check biotoxin levels, or call the biotoxin hotline at 800/562-5632.

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