Samish Bay shellfish growers are bracing themselves for a two-month oyster harvest closure due to the contaminant vibrio parahaemolyticus and a series of related illnesses.
Following the state Department of Health's announcement Monday that shellfish from the bay was the confirmed source of one illness and a possible source of three others, Taylor Shellfish Farms and Blau Oyster Co. were looking for ways to keep their employees busy and sales up until the harvest ban expires Sept. 30.
For small operations like Blau where oysters are the primary product, not being able to sell them may force the business to close its doors for the rest of the summer.
Owner Paul Blau hopes to secure an exemption from the state to sell shucked oysters marked with a warning label, which he said he did last year in order to maintain some sales and keep his crew intact.
With an exemption, sales would still take a hit because of the number of people who prefer live oysters, Blau said. But without it he'll have no choice but to close.
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