Parts of Willapa Bay reopen for commercial shellfish harvesting

For immediate release: June 11, 2024 (24-066)

Contact: DOH Communications

Continued testing required due to elevated risk of Harmful Algal Blooms

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has reopened Nahcotta, Cedar River, North River, Nemah River, and Naselle River in Willapa Bay for commercial shellfish harvesting. The announcement follows recent harvesting closures due to unsafe levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) detected in shellfish along Washington’s Pacific Coast.

Despite the reopening, lot testing – where each batch of commercially harvested shellfish is tested for PSP toxin - is required for all commercial shellfish in these areas due to the elevated risks of biotoxins. This guarantees that no contaminated product will enter the market.

"We understand the importance of commercial shellfish harvesting to our communities, and we are pleased to announce the reopening of these areas," said Dani Toepelt, Shellfish Licensing and Certification Manager. "As people’s safety remains our top priority, lot testing will remain mandatory until further notice.”

Stony Point, Bruceport, and Bay Center commercial growing centers in Willapa Bay remain closed, as well as all recreational shellfish harvesting for both Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. In addition, lot testing is also currently required in Grays Harbor due to heightened concerns.

DOH will closely monitor the results of lot tests conducted throughout the week. Depending on the outcome, adjustments may be made to the frequency of testing and all of Willapa Bay could reopen soon. Commercial shellfish growers, in addition to halting production and stopping shipments, have proactively submitted samples to make sure we can open these areas safely.

DOH is also emphasizing the seasonal recreational shellfish closures issued by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Olympic National Park for all Washington coastal beaches. Further details regarding seasonal closures and regulations for Washington beaches are available on the Washington Fishing Regulations portal. Current closure information is also available via the Washington Shellfish Safety Map or by calling the biotoxin/red tide hotline at 1-800-562-5632. Additional information regarding marine biotoxins and related illnesses is available on DOH’s website.

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