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Mussel Harvesting Closed on Part of Oregon Coast Due to Biotoxin: Cape Lookout to Seal Rock

Published 5/23/24 at 8:55 p.m.
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff


(Oregon Coast) – A sizable area of central and north Oregon coast is closed to mussel harvesting after wildlife experts found unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) said test results required the closure from Cape Lookout State Park (near Oceanside) down through Seal Rock State Park (just south of Newport). (Photo ODFW)

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This closure affects the areas in and around Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport and South Beach. It is effect as of Thursday, May 23.

ODFW said PSP is a naturally-occurring maine biotoxin, and it has nothing to do with the apparent oil spill issue happening somewhere in the region (which has not been pinned down yet).

“The mussel closure is not related to the oil event currently happening along the northern Oregon and southern Washington coasts,” ODFW said.

Meanwhile, the harvesting of mussels remains safe from Cape Lookout to the Washington border and from Seal Rock south to the California border.

ODFW said the tests done by ODA showed PSP levels rising in recent weeks. The latest test showed them over the safety threshold.

ODA said PSP is sometimes produced by some species of microscopic algae – not unlike the way domoic acid affects offshore wildlife and clams. PSP is quite serious: consuming it can cause severe illness. It's extremely poisonous, with as little as one milligram (0.000035 ounce) able to kill an adult.


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Cooking does not get rid of the biotoxin, and experts say you cannot smell or taste PSP in seafood.

Meanwhile, razor clamming is open in most areas, except for the stretch of south Oregon coast from Cape Blanco (near Port Orford) to the California line.


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Crabbing and harvesting bay clams are still open along the entire coastline.

“ODA will continue testing for shellfish toxins at least twice per month, as tides and weather permit. Reopening an area closed for biotoxins requires two consecutive tests with results below the closure limit,” ODFW said.

For more information call ODA's shellfish biotoxin hotline at (800) 448-2474, the ODA Food Safety Program at (503) 986-4720, or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures Webpage.

Contact ODFW for recreational license requirements, permits, rules, and limits. More photos below:

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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