FWC extends closure on scallop season


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will not reopen the harvest until scallops and other shellfish test safe for human consumption.

staff reports

ST. JOSEPH BAY — Anglers will be at least one more weekend without scallops as an algae bloom still is causing the catch to be unsafe for human consumption.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was forced to postpone the season, scheduled to begin July 25, because of the naturally occurring pseudo-nitzschia bloom. The postponement affects all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

FWC staff have been sampling scallops and other shellfish multiple days a week and will not reopen the harvest until they test safe for human consumption. The scallop closure does not affect other recreational activities in the area.

FWC said this algae bloom is not related to red tide, which has led to scallop season cancellations in previous years. Pseudo-nitzschia can produce domoic acid, which can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans if contaminated shellfish are consumed. ASP can cause gastrointestinal and neurological issues. Domoic acid does not impact finfish directly, but fish should be rinsed well, filleted and skinned prior to being eaten. FWC cautioned that even if shellfish appear healthy, it is unsafe to eat them until the areas have been reopened.

If you are experiencing symptoms of ASP, contact your primary care provider or the Florida Poison Control Hotline at 800-222-1222.