Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Presentation: The Alaskan Problem
August 24, 2011
With over 15 years of experience with PSP, RaLonde is a Professor of Fisheries for the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and aquaculture specialist for the University of Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program.
PSP is a pervasive problem in Alaska affecting human health and the marine environment and inflicting economic consequences on recreational, subsistence, commercial fisheries, and aquaculture development. Personal use and subsistent shellfish harvests account for 191 confirmed PSP illnesses from 1973 to 2011 in Alaska.
Originating from blooms of marine microalgae in the genus Alexandrium, shellfish consuming the algae concentrate and store PSP in their tissues. Ultimately, the toxin is passed on to the next level in the food chain, and when eaten by humans can result in illness and death.
The PSP problem develops from complex processes that include the biology of the toxic species, biochemistry of the toxin, environmental conditions that produce and spread the algae bloom, shellfish response to the toxin, risky shellfish harvest practices, and under reporting of illness.
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