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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
The Olympic National Park Pacific coast is closed to the harvest of all shellfish effective November 1, 2008 due to the presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins in shellfish tissues.
The park’s 73-mile coastline had been scheduled to open for shellfish harvest beginning November 1, but this opening is now delayed until further notice.
“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 September 30, 2008 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 October 21st were also above the human health threshold.
This closure applies only to the Olympic National Park coastline. PSP levels along 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 Washington Department of Health and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the future. Commercial shellfish operations on the southern Washington coast undergo intense human health testing and have not been affected by the current PSP outbreak.