High PSP levels force shellfish harvesting closures


The Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division, reminds recreational shellfish harvesters that all Clallam County harvest areas are currently closed to all species. 

Ongoing monitoring shows unpredictable and very high levels of the Paralytic Shellfish Poison. In additional to ocean beaches, all beaches are closed from Cape Flattery eastward to the Jefferson County line; Discovery Bay, Sequim Bay, Dungeness Bay also are closed to harvesting.

The closure for all species means clams (including geoduck), oysters, mussels and other invertebrates such as the moon snail. All areas are closed for the sport harvest of scallops. These closures do not apply to shrimp. Crabmeat is not known to contain the biotoxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (butter).

Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish from the closure areas. PSP is not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening. Commercially harvested shellfish available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxin prior to distribution and are safe to eat.

People can become ill or die from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae that contain toxins that are harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing and potentially death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider. For extreme reactions, call 9-1-1. 

Monitor site closures prior to collecting shellfish using the Washington State Department of Health’s Marine Biotoxin website,, or call 800-562-5632.

For additional information, call the Clallam County Environmental Health Division at 417-2543.
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