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Red tide closure for shellfish harvesting expands to Bainbridge Island
Shellfish harvesting has been closed for all species of clams, oysters and mussels on the east side of Kitsap County from Point Jefferson south to the Kitsap-Pierce county line after high levels of marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning were detected earlier this week.
The closure includes all of Bainbridge Island, Blake Island, Liberty Bay and Miller Bay.
Officials with the state Department of Health and the Kitsap Public Health District said the closure does not include Sinclair Inlet and Dyes Inlet.
Samples of mussels collected on Tuesday, July 17, from Clam Bay contained paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin concentrations of 409 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue.
Additional samples from Eagle Harbor and Brownsville also exceeded closure levels.
Shorelines are closed to harvesting when toxin levels exceed 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.
Warning signs on the "red tide" closure have been posted at public beaches and warn people not to collect shellfish from the closure areas.
Kitsap Public Health will continue to monitor shellfish at Kitsap County beaches, and notify the public if the levels of PSP toxin become unsafe in other areas.
Shrimp and crab are not included in the closure, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking, and the “crab butter” should be discarded. Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxin prior to distribution and are safe to eat.
Health officials are reminding residents that marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening.
For current shellfish closures within Kitsap County, call the hotline number at 1-800-2BE-WELL, or visit www.kitsappublichealth.org.
For closures in other areas of Washington, call the Washington State Department of Health’s Red Tide Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit www.doh.wa.gov.