Today, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) re-issued a health advisory reminding individuals to avoid eating recreationally harvested razor clams along Humboldt and Del Norte county beaches due to elevated domoic acid levels. This advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to close the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, scheduled to take place Monday, April 25 (detailed agenda to be posted at www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings). At that time, the Commission will consider whether to close the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Razor clams tested from Humboldt and Del Norte counties showed domoic acid levels significantly above the federal action level of 20 parts per million (ppm) with all but one of the samples (17 out of 18) exceeding that action level. One third of the samples taken showed levels above 100 ppm. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in razor clams along the coast to determine when the fishery can safely be opened.
Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.
OEHHA Memo 4/20/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122446&inline
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937