- Associated Press - Monday, May 8, 2017

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Alaska groups are increasing efforts to make sure shellfish are clean enough to be eaten.

There is no state monitoring program for shellfish harvesting despite the risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning, so Alaska Sea Grant and Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak are trying to find ways to provide that service, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported (https://bit.ly/2pndPsT ) Friday.

Algae blooms can cause shellfish to become contaminated with harmful toxins, which if eaten could cause illness and death.

One-third of the state’s reported cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning come from Kodiak Island.

Julie Matweyou, a marine advisory agent working with the grant, has been developing a rapid, reduced-cost testing kit that would provide an accurate toxicity measure for harvesters and researchers.

Anything over 80 micrograms of toxin per 100 grams of shellfish tissue is considered unsafe.

The testing kit would allow harvesters to know in real time if the shellfish has over 80 micrograms of toxicity, Matweyou said. Shellfish caught in an area where previous testing showed safe levels should not be assumed to also be safe, she said.

“One day we went out, we saw about a three-fold difference in toxins between the sites a half a mile apart,” she said. “So, there’s some really complex oceanography driving these dynamics.”

Because shellfish poison cannot be destroyed through cooking or freezing, the Alaska Division of Public Health strongly discourages eating noncommercial shellfish in Alaska.


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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