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Olympic National Park closes beaches to shellfish harvest

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on Oct. 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm with No Comments »
October 29, 2008 2:46 pm

The Olympic National Park Pacific coast will be closed to the harvest of all shellfish starting Satturday because of the presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins in shellfish.

The park’s 73-mile coastline had been scheduled to open for shellfish

harvest beginning Saturday1, but this opening is now delayed until further notice.

The park issued a news release a short time ago.

This closure applies only to the park’s coastline. Toxin levels on the southern Washington coastline have been lower than within the park. However, a decision to close those beaches to harvest may be made separately by the state Department of Health and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in the future.

Here is the rest of the release:

"Human safety is the most important consideration, and after consulting with the Washington State Department of Health, we have enacted this closure," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. "We will continue to monitor PSP levels along the coast, and will reopen shellfish harvest when it is safe to do so."

Shellfish species affected by this closure include hardshell clams (butter, cockles, horse, littleneck, manila), mussels, gooseneck barnacles, Dungeness crab and red rock crab. Razor clam harvest at Kalaloch is already closed until spring 2009 to allow the small clams there an opportunity to grow to a harvestable size.

PSP is produced by a natural marine alga. Often present during the summer months, it is usually absent during fall and winter. However, on Sept. 30, PSP levels within the park were five times the human health threshold established by the Washington Department of Health. PSP samples from Second Beach on Oct. 21 were also above the human health threshold.

Commercial shellfish operations on the southern Washington coast undergo intense human health testing and have not been affected by the current PSP outbreak.

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