Pollution Forces Shellfish Harvest Limits

The Washington State Department of Health’s annual water quality evaluation identified high bacteria levels in four of Washington’s 106 commercial shellfish areas, prompting harvest restrictions. An additional 19 areas are threatened with closure due to bacterial pollution including three areas in Mason County: Annas Bay in Hood Canal, North Bay and Pickering Passage.

Portions of Grays Harbor near the Elk River (Grays Harbor County), Chico Bay in Dyes Inlet (Kitsap County), Burley Lagoon (Pierce County), and Henderson Inlet (Thurston County) do not meet public health standards and shellfish harvesting in these areas will be restricted. State health officials are working with county partners, shellfish growers and tribal governments to implement plans to find and fix pollution problems in these areas.

“It’s been shown that clean water requires both prevention and pollution identification,” said Rick Porso, director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “Clean water is the result of everyone doing their part.”

Since 2011, DOH has invested about $25 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program. The grants support pollution identification and correction projects, onsite septic system management programs, research, and shellfish protection districts.

People can do their part by maintaining septic systems, picking up after pets, using pump out stations for boats and recreational vehicles, and managing animal waste from large and small farms.

Current commercial classification information can be viewed at the Commercial Shellfish Map. Recreational harvesters can get up-to-date sport harvest information on the Shellfish Safety Map.