Is It Safe to Eat? Alaskan Chugach Get Help from NCCOS
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS) recently traveled to Seward, Alaska, to launch a collaborative research project with the Alaskan Chugach community to help them determine if their shellfish are safe to eat.
For many Chugach, the harvest of chitons, littleneck clams, cockles, and other shellfish form an important part of their subsistence diet. There is no systematic testing of this harvest, however, and Chugach community members are concerned about the quality and safety of this food source, especially given persistent problems with contamination from the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.
NCCOS scientists have been training Native partners from the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward to conduct sample collection and to perform other aspects of the research. As part of the study, scientists will be examining how to use contamination measurements in mussels and oysters to extrapolate contamination levels in the species the Chugach eat.