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Quartermaster Harbor closed for all species of shellfish harvesting

Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at levels of concern in shellfish samples collected from Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon-Maury Island. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed Quartermaster Harbor to the recreational harvest of shellfish.

Public Health – Seattle & King County is posting advisory signs at Quartermaster Harbor warning people to not collect shellfish. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of mollusks. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts ("butter"). This closure does not apply to shrimp.

Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.

PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent neurotoxin. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by visual inspection of the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term "red tide" is misleading and inaccurate. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing.

Recreational shellfish harvesting can be closed due to rising levels of PSP at any time. Therefore, harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Biotoxin Website before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound