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Environment and Outdoors

Toxic Algae Bloom Forces Shellfish Recall and Harvesting Closures Down East

In the wake of an algal bloom, the Department of Marine Resources says it is working to recall shellfish that was harvested on or after Sept. 10 from a stretch of the Down East coast.  

"We don't, at this point, have exact numbers or amounts of product that are affected by the recall, but we've had good compliance with dealers," says marine resources department spokesman Jeff Nichols.

Nichols says levels of domoic acid in shellfish harvested from an area between Mount Desert Island and Gouldsboro prompted the closure.

Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by some types of algae, and can become concentrated in shellfish. Consumption of the contaminated shellfish can cause sickness, confusion, memory impairment and even death in marine mammals and humans.

Nichols says the toxin has been present in low levels for years. "But it's only since last year that it's gotten to levels that based on FDA guidelines result in closures."

The department has also taken the precaution of closing a swath of coast from Deer Isle to Roque Bluff to harvesting.