Warmer water temperatures and what that means for your shellfish harvesting season

Spring is here, birds are chirping, the sun is starting to shine, plants are blooming, wildlife is out and about enjoying the warmer temperatures. With warmer outside air temperature comes warmer water temperatures and the Phytoplankton have started to show up in greater numbers, changing the color of the water in some cases. We want to ensure you know more about our sampling program and how it can keep you safe when digging shellfish.

Hoonah Indian Association samples both shellfish (cockles, butter clams, blue mussels) and the water to monitor for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. The IGAP Department has been taking weekly water and bi-weekly shellfish samples from Shaman Point and the Harbor Boat Launch year-round for three years now. Summer is a productive time in the ocean and we are up for the challenges that Phytoplankton and summer bring. By doing each of these sampling methods we hope to catch a PSP bloom as it happens to keep you safe.

Traditionally we only dig in months with an “R” in them meaning spring time is the normally the end of shellfish digging season. Our sampling has shown has shown that it is good to be cautious of digging shellfish in the warmer months, but if you didn’t store enough shellfish this winter and need a few more cases, there may still be time. Please consult with us before going to dig during the summer – information on how to learn more is below.

You can minimize your risk for PSP exposure by knowing how each shellfish species holds the toxin – each species of shellfish differs on how long it takes to clear its self of the PSP toxin. In our area, Butter Clams hold the PSP toxin the longest and Blue Mussels the shortest.

To keep up to date with the status of the shellfish from our sample locations, you can find the results from our samples online on SEATOR’s web site also on HIA Environmental’s web site. If you prefer the tried and true method of pen and paper we display the current status and advisories in the harbor on our Clamhub Message Board located by jetty; or you can call us in the office at 907 945 3545 or stop in to the environmental office located on Roosevelt street and say hi. W



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