SEATTLE -- New details have been released about geoduck shipments that Chinese officials say contained high levels of inorganic arsenic and the toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP.
In response to their testing, the Chinese government instituted Dec. 3 a ban all U.S. harvested geoduck clams and other bivalve shellfish from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released two export health certificates it received from China. The documents indicate that the two geoduck shipments in question came from Ketchikan, Alaska and SeaTac, Wash.
Additional information about the businesses associated with these shipments was redacted “to protect sensitive commercial information,” according to a NOAA spokesperson.
According to the certificates, a geoduck shipment of about 2,250 pounds came from Ketchikan, Alaska, and a second shipment of about 1,500 pounds came from SeaTac, Wash.
The certificates indicate that both shipments contained wild caught geoduck. Each year Washington state geoduck harvesters collect about 5 million pounds of wild geoduck, half is harvested by Washington tribes and half by the state through leases to commercial harvesters.
The Washington Department of Health officials who are investigating the situation say they are puzzled by China's claims saying the geoduck appear to have been harvested from areas that were open and in good standing with low levels of PSP.
On Dec. 13 Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark asked officials at the Food and Drug Administration and NOAA to find out more about how Chinese officials tested the geoduck that initiated the ban.