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Shellfish warning may expand to Dyes and Sinclair Inlets
The Kitsap Public Health District has posted expanded warnings regarding shellfish harvesting along some Kitsap County shorelines, and officials say the boundaries may soon expand.
The current warnings, posted by the Kitsap County Health District on July 18, include areas on the east side of Kitsap County from Point Jefferson to the Pierce County Line and includes all of Bainbridge Island, Blake Island, Liberty Bay and Miller Bay.
The closure excludes the Dyes Inlet and the Sinclair Inlet, but officials say these also may be closed to harvesting soon.
The closure includes harvesting of all species of clams, oysters and mussels and officials say warning signs have been posted at public beaches warning not to collect from affected areas.
Jim Zimny, Kitsap County Health District Senior Environmental Health Specialist, said samples of mussels collected on July 17 from Clam Bay contained PSP toxin concentrations of 409 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue which exceed the closure level of 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.
Additional samples taken from Eagle Harbor and Brownsville also exceeded closure levels.
Shrimp and crab are not included in the closure, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking and the “crab butter” remaining in the pot should be discarded.
Zimny said marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and symptoms of poisoning may manifest within minutes or hours of ingestion. Symptoms usually begin with tingling in the lips and tongue and then move to hands and feet and are followed with difficulty breathing and potential death.
Anyone experiencing such symptoms should contact 911 immediately.
Samples are taken weekly. Zimny said he would not be surprised to see the closures spread soon.
“I expect the closures to move to the Dyes and Sinclair inlets in the next few weeks,” he said.
Shellfish available for purchase in stores and restaurants that have been commercially harvested are tested and safe to eat. Zimny said commercial harvests are safe for other reasons also.
“Typically what happens is commercial harvesters will stop also and not risk time and resources during closures,” he said.
For more information on current shellfish closures within Kitsap County, call the district’s health advisory hotline at 800-223-9355. For closures in other areas of Washington, call the Washington State Department of Health’s Red Tide Hotline at 800-562-5632 or go online to www.doh.wa.gov.