Shellfish in SoCal... good to eat? legally allowed?

I see mussels in Palos Verdes, Malibu, Pt Mugu… Clams too. I am a dedicated fisherman and forager. I know people eat 'em up north near SF but are they too toxic/illegal in L.A?

I wouldn’t recommend it (especially not in this weather)
not sure if it’s illegal though.

As far as I know as long as you have a valid license and are foraging in a location which is not protected you are good to go. However having said that I would not eat them from southern California locations.

You do need a fishing license. And as already mentioned, you don’t want to eat filter feeders after rain because the storm drain water runs into the sea.

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You do need a fishing license as others have stated. In addition, you need to be aware of the risk of shellfish poisoning: Given that California is one of the biggest polluters in the nation when it comes to agricultural runoff, cyanobacteria blooms are fairly common. These produce a toxin that accumulates in shellfish and can be deadly to people (do some google searching for “paralytic shellfish poisoning”). Generally, it is safer to eat foraged shellfish in the colder months, as cyanobacteria require higher temperatures to thrive. However, the temperature of the coastal waters of California is kept fairly constant by the cold-water current that runs along the length of the state, so this is less applicable here. Before collecting anywhere in California, however, contact the California Department of Public Health Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133 to check whether there are any biotoxin warnings for the area you are interested in.


hello @screedius, welcome to the forum!

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Shellfish poisoning. In Alaska!
I skimmed this article, but it fits with the original question.

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Thank you! Glad to join.

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Hi there,
I bet you are already on top of this, but just in case, I wanted to share info about Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) in CA because in addition to needing a license to fish, we have many no take zones along the coast and nearby islands. So, here is a link just in case it is helpful to know where you may and may not harvest:

Happy foraging :)

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