All Whatcom County beaches and Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon-Maury Island have been closed to recreational shellfish harvesting because of unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poison.

All Whatcom County beaches and Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon-Maury Island have been closed to recreational shellfish harvesting because of unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poison.

The Washington State Department of Health told The Bellingham Herald ( http://is.gd/c9vrH9) that until further notice, clams, mussels, scallops, oysters and cockles may not be harvested at any beaches in the Whatcom county. Crabs can be taken, but crab “butter” and entrails should be discarded.

Health officials also halted all shellfish harvesting at Vashon’s Quartermaster Harbor.

Paralytic shellfish poison can be life-threatening. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling in the lips to difficulty breathing and paralysis. It cannot be eliminated by cooking or freezing.

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The Department of Health asks people who plan on harvesting shellfish to first call the biotoxin hotline, 800-562-5632.

Information from: The Bellingham Herald, http://www.bellinghamherald.com