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West shore of Bainbridge Island closed to shellfish harvesting
High levels of marine biotoxins have been found in shellfish samples taken from the Brownsville Marina, and the discovery has prompted the closure of waters on the west shoreline of Bainbridge Island from the Agate Pass Bridge south to Point White, and on the east shoreline from Illahee State Park north to the Agate Pass Bridge, including all bays and inlets, to recreational shellfish harvesting for all species of clams, oysters and mussels.
The Washington State Department of Health and the Kitsap Public Health District announced the shellfish harvesting ban Wednesday.
Officials said marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PCP, were found in mussels collected on Oct. 28.
The mussels contained PSP toxin concentrations of 126 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue. Shorelines are closed to harvesting when toxin levels exceed 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.
Health officials said warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish from the closure areas.
Officials also noted that existing biotoxin closures for all species of shellfish remain in effect for all of Dyes Inlet and Port Madison Bay.
A biotoxin closure for butter and varnish clams only remains in place for Kitsap County’s eastern shoreline from Point No Point in Hansville south to the Pierce County line, including all shorelines on Bainbridge Island and Blake Island.
Shrimp and crab are not included in the closure announced this week, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking, and the “crab butter” should be discarded.
Officials said shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxins prior to distribution, and are safe to eat.
Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae that contains toxins that are harmful to humans. Symptoms of marine biotoxin poisoning can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing and potentially death.
Kitsap Public Health will continue to monitor shellfish at Kitsap County beaches, and notify the public if the levels of marine biotoxins become unsafe in other areas.
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 Shellfish Safety Hotline at 1-800-562-5632, or visit www.doh.wa.gov.