Editor's note: Press release issued by Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Unusually high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) toxins were found in Tacoma's Commencement Bay shellfish. , and more Pierce County beaches have been closed as a result. Recreational shellfish harvesting closures are in effect for all but a small portion of Pierce County beaches.
PSP toxins are not visible in the water or in shellfish. Eating shellfish contaminated with PSP toxins can be fatal. The toxins cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing. PSP toxins can only be detected by laboratory testing.
Conditions are changing rapidly and there will likely be more areas closed in the very near future. Recreational shellfish harvesters are advised to call the Washington State Department of Health Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or access the Biotoxin website before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has posted signs in impacted areas of the county, including Ruston Way, Dash Point County Park, Brown’s Point Park, Owens Beach, Point Defiance boathouse, Narrows Park, Day Island marina, Wollochet Bay boat launch, Fox Island Bridge, Solo Beach, Saltars Point, and Sunrise Beach County Park warning people to not eat 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.