Limited Shellfish Opening at Fort Flagler, Kilisut Harbor and Mystery Bay

Port Townsend  Marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) have declined enough to allow recreational shellfish harvesting for oysters, manila clams and mussels at Fort Flagler, Kilisut Harbor and Mystery Bay. The area is still posted closed for harvesting of butter and varnish clams due to the fact that they remain toxic for longer than other shellfish species. In August, PSP concentrations quickly rose to over 1,700 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish, and remained high into Fall. PSP levels above 80 micrograms are considered unsafe, and levels in the thousands can be lethal to humans. Crab meat 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).

To make sure you are harvesting the correct shellfish species, consult the species identifier chart at: www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/332-087.pdf. 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 Shellfish Safety map at www.doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State. Recreational harvesters should also check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish or the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.

 

The B.C. Scallop Farmer’s Acid Test – The Tyee

More on the emerging ocean acidification issues of aquaculture. 

Rob Saunders points a flashlight into the depths of an immense plastic tank at his hatchery, illuminating millions of scallop larvae as tiny as dust particles. “Think of these as canaries in a coal mine,” says the marine biologist turned embattled shellfish farming CEO. It is here at Island Scallops’ facility in Qualicum Beach, located just inland from British Columbia’s shellfish farming epicentre of Baynes Sound, that ocean acidification wreaked havoc. Beginning in 2011, the company’s scallop brood stock (adult shellfish bred over 25 years to be disease-resistant and exceptionally meaty), began to die. Christopher Pollon reports. (The Tyee)

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/19/climate-change-scallops_n_8597502.html

Biotoxin infesting part of Hood Canal usually free of it – PDN

Warning for those of you going out to do some shellfish gathering.

…. The Department of Health found high levels of the marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning in Hood Canal early this summer, leading the state to close several beaches in Jefferson and Mason counties to shellfish harvest, many for the first time. Aria Shephard Bull reports. (Kitsap Sun)

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/biotoxin-infesting-part-of-hood-canal-usually-free-of-it_77950401

See also: More shellfish harvest closures in effect in Clallam County; shut areas stretch from Cape Flattery to Jefferson line http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150816/NEWS/308169987/more-shellfish-harvest-closures-in-effect-in-clallam-county-shut (Peninsula Daily News)

How algae blooms could take mussels off the menu – Christian Science Monitor

This article swings around from India to Puget Sound, it’s a bit all over the map, literally. But take it as you read it. I think that the point is that continued algal blooms are increasing the incident of red tide, and that if this continues it may be harder and harder to grow shellfish for the size of the commercial markets.

New research suggests that climate change could cause massive poisonous algae blooms, depleting already limited shellfishing industries. Could the solution be something as simple as seagrass? Joseph Dussault reports. (Christian Science Monitor)

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/0706/How-algae-blooms-could-take-mussels-off-the-menu

Ocean acidification a culprit in commercial shellfish hatcheries’ failures – phsy.org

More news on the science coming in that definitively is pointing to Ocean Acidification being the culprit in hatchery mortality rates here.

The mortality of larval Pacific oysters in Northwest hatcheries has been linked to ocean acidification. Yet the rate of increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decrease of pH in near-shore waters have been questioned as being severe enough to cause the die-offs. Now, a new study of Pacific oyster and Mediterranean mussel larvae found that the earliest larval stages are sensitive to saturation state, rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) or pH (acidity) per se. Saturation state is a measure of how corrosive seawater is to the calcium carbonate shells made by bivalve larvae, and how easy it is for larvae to produce their shells. A lower saturation rate is associated with more corrosive seawater. Cheryl Dybas reports. (PHYS.ORG)

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-ocean-acidification-culprit-commercial-shellfish.html

And this article follows on it.

http://phys.org/news/2014-11-tool-west-coast-ocean-acidification.html#inlRlv

For those wanting to understand the science behind “saturation state” you can find the definition down this page. Just “find” saturation state when you get to it. The formula is there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification

Raw oysters sicken 12, prompt shellfish harvest closure and recall – Seattle Times

Oops. Apparently a leaking septic system was to blame. This affects a wide range of fresh oysters in many states. Read the article for more information. Environmental organizations have pushed for well over a decade to get counties to force mandatory inspections of septic systems. However, public outcry against doing it, especially in counties like Mason, have forced voluntary programs. And this is the kind of outcome that happens. Haven been made sick from oysters myself, I can tell you it isn’t fun. I spent almost a week in bed once from the experience, and really felt like I was dying.

Washington state health officials have ordered an emergency harvest closure and a multistate recall of all shellfish from a portion of Mason County’s Hammersley Inlet after at least a dozen people who ate raw oysters became ill. (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025219127_shellfishrecallxml.html

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound’s Polluted Tale – Earthfix

It’s always been a question mark in my mind, about how much of the bad stuff in the Sound are we eating with our delicious meals of shellfish. Now we know. And it’s a good word of caution that if you are regularly eating shellfish, that buying them from growers who are away from urban environments, or harvesting them yourself in remote places, is the best rule of thumb. And it also gives us a very easy way  to measure the recovery efforts at work. The bad news is that PCBs, long banned, continue to be found in the water, as do flame retardants. Both are cancer causing. It points out that storm water runoff and our crazy notion that we can pour our sewage into our Sound, have consequences for us.

Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound. And in some places, it’s pretty contaminated. This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results. [http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01643/] Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/shellfish-tell-puget-sounds-polluted-tale/

Washington Dept of Health Post New Recreational Shellfish Safety App

The State Dept of Health have a new interactive map you can use on your smartphone or tablet when in the field. Want to know if the beach you are clamming on is safe? Try this. https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html

https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html

Petition for Action Targets Shellfish Farm Operations

It’s unclear what, if any action has been taken by the EPA since this was sent in.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a EPA petition for action on July 24, 2014 regarding PVC, including PVC pipe and how it degrades (see pages 14-15 of PDF). This petition is in addition to their 2012 EPA petition for action on plastic pollution which included plastic nets, plastic rope and rubber bands.
PVC pipe, plastic nets, plastic rope and rubber bands are used extensively by the shellfish industry in Puget Sound and Willapa Bay/Grays Harbor where citizens continue to pick up increasing amounts of this plastic pollution on the shorelines.
July 2014-EPA PVC Petition (Mentions PVC and PVC pipe-Note:Over 40,000 PVC pipes go into every acre of geoduck aquaculture)

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/pdfs/PVC_RCRA.pdf

August 2012-EPA Plastic Pollution Petition (Mentions rubber bands, plastic rope and nets–Note:same materials that shellfish aquaculture uses)
Read the petition and the science behind it at:

A short film about the shellfish industry

This is about us, now. The impact of ocean acidification on our shellfish industry. Today. A great short film by students at the University of Oregon. Watch it.

This piece explores the effects of ocean acidification because of pollution from CO2 from the point of view of Oregon’s oyster farmers. The state of our ocean’s water quality is changing at a rate that can not be ignored.

 

Health risks estimated for Port Gamble Bay shellfish – Kitsap Sun

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2014/feb/10/health-risks-estimated-for-port-gamble-bay/#axzz2szYnGC6a (subscription)

Chris Dunagan of the Kitsap Sun reports in this subscription only article about the risks of consuming significant quantities of shellfish from Port Gamble Bay.

According to the story,

Out of every 1,000 people who eat 1.1 pounds of clams, oysters and crabs every day over a lifetime, two people could be expected to get cancer because of those shellfish… which focuses on shellfish taken from the upper portion of Port Gamble Bay….

There’s lots more to the article. Read it at the Kitsap Sun link above.

New law: Septic system inspections required at time of property sale in Clallam County – PDN

I was pondering this very issue as I drove through the Sequim valley last week. Thousands of homes, virtually all of them on septic systems, and the knowledge that the beaches around the Dungeness estuary, Spit and surrounding areas are often closed to shellfish harvest because of fecal coliform levels. While many, if not most septics are fine, having at least a check every time a sale is transacted is a good start.  The thing to remember is that there is groundwater under there. At some point a failing system is likely to affect it.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140428/NEWS/304289982/new-law-septic-system-inspections-required-at-time-of-property-sale

A septic system inspection will be required at the time of a property sale under a revised Clallam County sewage code that takes effectThursday (May 1). 

 

10 million scallops are dead; Qualicum company lays off staff – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

This in from just over the border. What I understand about scallops is that they are the hardest shellfish to grow, and recent attempts to re-establish them in US Puget Sound waters have been unsuccessful (to commercially viable sizes). Maybe this is why.

High acid levels in the waters around Parksville Qualicum Beach have killed 10 million scallops and forced a local shellfish producer to scale operations back considerably.

Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders said the company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million.

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban – KCTS9

Huge news just in…this seriously effects many jobs and businesses, both tribal and non tribal, on the Olympic Peninsula.  

China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States — an unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest export market. China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. The restriction took effect last week and China’s government says it will continue indefinitely. It applies to clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested from the waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. U.S. officials think the contaminated clams were harvested in Washington or Alaska. Right now they’re waiting to hear back from Chinese officials for more details that will help them identify the exact source. Katie Campbell, Ashley Ahearn and Tony Schick report.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/china-imposes-first-ever-ban-on-nw-shellfish/

2013 NW Straits: Alexis Valauir -Ocean Acidification Effects on Global Communities

From the 2013 NW Straits Annual Conference, a most interesting talk:

Alexis Valauri-Orton recently completed a year-long Watson Fellowship investigating human narratives of ocean acidification in Norway, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Peru. Over the year, she traded her lab coat for a pair of gum boots, experiencing firsthand the role marine resources play in coastal communities. Investigating narratives of acidification in such diverse communities, she discovered the importance of understanding and navigating the social structures that shape our vulnerabilities and responses to environmental issues. She holds a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Davidson College, in North Carolina, and now lives in her hometown of Seattle. She believes increasing scientific literacy and public awareness on issues like ocean acidification is the key to creating a sustainable future.

The Powerpoints of her talk are found at the NW Straits web site:

http://www.nwstraits.org/Whats-New/Meetings-Events/2013-MRC-Conference.aspx

or directly here (This downloads the presentation to your computer)

Click to access Valauri-Orton-OA.pdf

You can download this for use on a device like an ipod or iphone, or just listen to it right here on your computer.

 

 

Expert: critique of Seattle Times “Sea Change” project ignores the science

Cliff Mass has long been suspect as a climate change denier, often saying that there is not enough proof to make suggestions that global warming is affecting us locally. His recent blog post has gotten wide spread reading as he is considered very thoughtful in his pronouncements. Last week he published a story that said that he didn’t believe that ocean acidification was causing problems with the shellfish here in the Sound and along the coast, both of which active investigations by shellfish growers here in the State. Now, Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch takes Mass to task for his recent post.

Let’s be clear, as stated in the article: “Mass is not a chemical oceanographer, but he is a scientist with some familiarity with these issues.”

Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch, author of the series “Sea Change,” rebuts Cliff Mass’s critique of the series. “Ocean acidification actually is to blame for current problems with Northwest oysters. And that fact is supported by strong evidence. Suggesting otherwise is a misreading of the science. Readers need not take our word for it.”

<a href="http://blogs.seattletimes.com/seachange/2013/10/12/expert-critique-of-seattle-times-sea-change-project-ignores-the-science/“>

Toxic Algal Blooms And Warming Waters: The Climate Connection – Earthfix

“First U.S. Case of Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning.” The event described in this article happened with shellfish collected in Sequim Bay. The Jamestown Tribe is highlighted in the story as having a biologist on staff to test for shellfish issues. They harvest lots of shellfish from the bay and surrounding areas, so they are very aware of the risks involved and what needs to be done to protect their customers. The article does not make any point of clarifying whether the Willifords harvested at a beach that was known to be closed to harvest.

The mussels the Willifords ate around the campfire that night were indeed poisoned. But it was a natural type of poison. The shellfish had sucked up a toxin produced by a certain type of algae called dinophysis.


http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/toxic-algal-blooms-and-warming-waters-the-climate-/

Taylor Shellfish Tour in Quilcene on Saturday – noon to 2PM.

I was given a tour of the facility as part of an interview done for the Jefferson County Marine Resource Committee. If you have any interest in finding out how shellfish are raised here in the Salish Sea, this is a good place to start. It would be a great short day for either pre-teens or teens to see. And it’s a beautiful beach. The drive down is pretty good also.

You can see a bit of the facility on the first interview on the video I did for the MRC>
https://vimeo.com/53916496

Shellfish farm tours

QUILCENE — Public tours of Taylor Shellfish Farms’ hatchery, 701 Broad Spit Road, will be offered from noon to 1 p.m. today, with a beach tour from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Attendees should arrive between 10 to 15 minutes early.

Taylor Shellfish Farm spawn clams, mussels, oysters and geoduck, with larvae planted at beaches around Hood Canal and Puget Sound.

Acidifying Water Takes Toll On Northwest Shellfish – Earthfix

Thanks to Earthfix for doing a good job on reporting on this.

“Rescuing shellfish from the rising acidity in Puget Sound will require a wide-ranging response: Everything from curbing greenhouse gases and controlling water pollution to growing more seaweed and putting restaurant-discarded oyster shells into shallow bays.”

Ashley Ahearn, Katie Campbell and David Steves report.

http://earthfix.kuow.org/water/article/acid-water-take-toll-on-puget-sound-shellfish/

On Dabob Bay, man and nature nurture preservation – Seattle Times

Nice overview of the environmental story in Dabob Bay, reported by Ron Judd, with quotes from local environmental leader Peter Bahl, Chris Davis of the Nature Conservancy and Taylor Shellfish’s Bill Dewey.

I love Dabob Bay, it represents one of the few nearly pristine bays on the Salish Sea. (I disagree with Mr. Judd that it’s in “Puget Sound”, as most of us who have lived and sailed here for a long time, know that Hood Canal has always been considered a separate body of water from Puget Sound, as are the Straits. That’s why the naming of the Salish Sea was added). The bay is wonderfully quiet, and little of the houses can be seen from shore, giving the look of almost wilderness to it.

“Few places in the Northwest boast the odd mix of ingredients — man, mollusk, mammal and military — found in the deep mixing bowl that is Dabob Bay.”

Read the whole story at:
http://seattletimes.com/html/pacificnw/2019630870_pacificpdabob18.html

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