Toxin fears close North Beach clam fishery

  • Jun. 17, 2011 7:00 a.m.

The North Beach razor clam fishery was shut down Thursday afternoon (June 16) after dangerously high levels of the PSP toxin were found in samples. Sandra Davies, a resource management biologist at Fisheries and Oceans in Prince Rupert, said the levels in the North Beach sample were above the safe limit but not as extreme as those found recently in Alaskan shellfish. PSP, or paralytic shellfish poisoning, has sent at least a dozen people to hospital in southeastern Alaska in the past month. Fisheries and Oceans has closed all commercial and recreational razor clam fishing on the north coast of Graham Island. Cockle harvesting is also closed. Ms Davies said crabs are not affected by PSP, only bivalve shellfish. The toxin does not harm the shellfish but concentrates in their bodies as they consume algae. Humans who eat contaminated shellfish can have a range of symptoms, from tingling in the tongue and lips, to tingling and numbness extending to the arms and legs, and nausea. In extreme cases, breathing can be affected. Cooking or freezing contaminated shellfish does not destroy the toxin. The geoduck fishery, taking place this year around Prince Rupert, was closed down a few weeks ago due to PSP, Ms Davies said. A PSP closure, also known as a “red tide”, is not unusual at this time of year, Ms Davies said. The levels usually go down within a few weeks. With the exception of North Beach, most of Haida Gwaii is under a blanket closure for shellfish harvesting because there is no testing, Ms Davies said. The only other place open for shellfish on Haida Gwaii is Kagan Bay, where there is a shellfish farm and samples are tested regularly. So far, Kagan Bay samples are fine, Ms Davies said. Fisheries and Oceans was posting signs at North Beach to let people know about the closure, Ms Davies said. As well, Haida Fisheries sent a news bulletin door to door in the Massett area as soon as the closure was announced.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Ferry sailing delayed after divers check Northern Adventure

Divers called in to check propeller shaft, sailing to Haida Gwaii now 140 minutes behind

Haida Gwaii fishery staff gear up for marine mammal rescues

Haida fishery guardians and DFO fishery officers better equipped to rescue marine mammals

On the Wing: Heatwaves, forests and shorebirds

By Margo Hearne The dog days of summer continue. It’s been hot… Continue reading

In Pictures: Great crowd, good vibes at 2018 Edge of the World

Haida Gwaii music fest gets a bumper turnout with summer sun and deep talent pool

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Most Read