Shellfish harvesting safe again on local beaches

By Oliver Lazenby

As of July 6, shellfish harvested recreationally in all of Whatcom County except Point Roberts is safe to eat, according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

The state Department of Health found unsafe levels of a biotoxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which is produced by some species of algae, in early June.

The DOH closed all beaches in the county on June 6. The closure didn’t affect shellfish sold in restaurants and stores, which are tested before distribution through a separate process.

The Whatcom County Health Department has received recent reports of red-colored plankton blooms in Birch Bay and near Drayton Harbor, but those blooms are not associated with biotoxin closures, according to the county.

For up to date information on recreational shellfish harvest closures, check the state Department of Health’s shellfish safety map at

For information about harvest seasons and licensing requirements, check with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife:

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