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All Whatcom beaches – except Point Roberts – reopened to shellfish harvesting

The Whatcom County Department of Health announced today biotoxin levels have decreased enough for the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to lift the closure that has been in effect since late June.

Molluscan shellfish harvesting impacted by the closure included clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. All Whatcom County beaches between Point Roberts area and Larrabee State Park were closed.

Today’s announcement lifted the shellfish harvesting restrictions for all but Point Roberts beaches. According to the announcement, “Point Roberts remains closed to the harvest of all species until additional shellfish samples are analyzed.”

Whatcom County Health Department officials also noted in today’s announcement they recently received reports of red-colored plankton blooms in Birch Bay and near Drayton Harbor. “But these blooms are not associated with biotoxin closures. Water color is not an accurate measure of shellfish safety. Algae that produce marine biotoxins can only be detected by laboratory testing. Toxic blooms can occur in clear water, and some non-toxic blooms can cause water color to change.”

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Current biotoxin and pollution closures information can be found at the DOH website or by calling the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632.

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