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DEPT. OF MARINE RESOURCES
Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Program
Alison Sirois, Western Maine Growing Area Program Supervisor (Kittery to Dice Head, Castine)
Meggan Dwyer, Eastern Maine Growing Area Program Supervisor (Dice Head, Castine to Calais)
The Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Program is administered by the Department's Bureau of Public Health. It uses the standards outlined in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) to monitor levels of PSP (“Red Tide”) and other marine biotoxins in the shellfish of the State of Maine.
When toxin is found at levels near or above where human illness may occur, closures to the harvest of shellfish areas are implemented. Maine has historically had high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP), more commonly known as “Red Tide” during the warmer periods of the year. Shellfish samples are collected statewide between March and October and evaluated at the two PSP laboratories (Boothbay Harbor, in the western portion of the state and Lamoine, in the eastern portion). Data is then interpreted and appropriate closures are made when necessary.
News (updated April 23, 2013)
The DMR Bureau of Public Health Biotoxin Program plans to upgrade testing techniques to a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method for most species of bivalve shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters etc). The program is also considering changes to its sampling strategy including creating regional mussel closures during the height of the biotoxin season and maintaining exception areas for wild and recreational mussel harvest.
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