All King County shorelines closed to shellfish harvesting | Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) levels pose health risk
September 1, 2010 · Updated 7:00 PM
Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at levels of concern in shellfish samples collected along King County shorelines. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed all of King County to the recreational harvest of shellfish.
Public Health – Seattle & King County is posting advisory along beaches and harbors warning people to not collect shellfish from these areas. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of mollusks. Crabs and shrimp are not included in the closure.
Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.
PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent neurotoxin. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.
A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by visual inspection of the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term "red tide" is misleading and inaccurate. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing.
Recreational shellfish harvesting can be closed due to rising levels of PSP at any time. Therefore, harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.