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Mussel Harvesting Returns to All of Oregon Coast

Published 10/21/23 at 5:22 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Mussel Harvesting Returns to All of Oregon Coast

(Oregon Coast) – Last month, a large area of the south Oregon coast was closed to the harvesting of mussels because of a paralytic shell toxin, one that is tougher than the usual domoic acid. However, this week, testing for the biotoxin called paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) came up above the safe threshold for the second time, allowing Oregon officials to reopen harvesting.

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) made the announcement Friday, saying it and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) have reopened the area from Bandon to the California border.

PSP is much more difficult on humans if ingested, ODFW said last month. It is capable of affecting humans within hours of digestion. ODFW said it can cause numbness, disorientation, paralysis and death. The toxin can be found in mussels, bay clams, scallops and oysters, as well as razor clams.

The area from Bandon northward into the north and central Oregon coast had not tested high for the toxin and was fine for mussel harvesting.

“PSP poisoning is a byproduct of a group of dinoflagellates which produce saxitoxins which affect the nervous system,” ODFW said in September.

Freezing or cooking the mussels will have no effect on levels of PSP.

Harvesting of razor clams recently reopened on some key parts of the coastline, especially Clatsop Beach – from Seaside to the Washington border. This leaves most of the Oregon coast open to razor clamming, except for the region of Seal Rock to Tillamook Head at Cannon Beach. This area contains razor clams still too high in domoic acid, another biotoxin that can harm humans.

The region from Seal Rock to Brookings is open, meaning much of the central coast and all of the south coast.

Bay clamming is open along the entire coastline. Crabbing is open in all bays around the coastline, but ocean crabbing is not due to biotoxins and the annual closure until November 30. Shellfish managers continue to test the region every two weeks. Reopening an area closed for biotoxins requires two consecutive tests with results below the closure limit.

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.

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Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium: mussel getting eaten by a sea star

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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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