Marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) have been detected at lethal concentrations in shellfish samples collected from Quilcene Bay.

Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxin prior to distribution and should be safe to eat, according to Jefferson County Public Health.

Quilcene Bay has been closed to the recreational harvest of molluscan shellfish since Sept. 8, 2014. PSP concentrations have continued to rise to over 6,000 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish; the closure level is 80 micrograms. Washington State Department of Health warns that consumption of shellfish with such high amounts of toxin is potentially lethal.

The current Jefferson County areas closed to the recreational harvest of all species of shellfish are Quilcene Bay, Dabob Bay, Discovery Bay and all West Coast ocean beaches. Kilisut Harbor (between Indian and Marrowstone islands) including Mystery Bay and Port Ludlow Bay including Mats Mats Bay are closed to the recreational harvest of butter and varnish clams only.

Danger signs have been posted at high-use beaches, warning people not to consume shellfish from the area. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. This closure does 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).

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begins 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 immediately. For extreme reactions call 911.

In most cases the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected using laboratory testing. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters should check the new DOH clickable map with a mobile friendly version for smartphones at or the text only version at or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.