Pollution Threatens Shellfish Harvest Areas

The Washington State Department of Health’s annual water quality evaluation for commercial shellfish harvest areas will result in harvest restrictions in one area, and 18 additional areas will be listed as “threatened” – five areas are in Mason County.

A portion of Port Susan in Snohomish County does not meet public health standards and commercial shellfish harvesting will be restricted. State health officials are working with local partners and tribal governments to find and fix pollution problems in this area.

Shellfish harvest areas currently meeting water quality standards, but threatened with restrictions due to bacterial pollution include:

Clallam County – Makah Bay; Grays Harbor County – Grays Harbor, Pacific Coast; Jefferson County – Discovery Bay; Kitsap County – Dyes Inlet; Mason County – Annas Bay, Hood Canal near Union, North Bay, Oakland Bay, Pickering Passage; Pierce County – Poverty Bay near Dash Point, Henderson Bay, Vaughn Bay, West Key Peninsula in Dutcher Cove; Snohomish County – Port Susan, South Skagit Bay; Thurston County – Henderson Inlet; and Whatcom County – Drayton Harbor.

Since 2011, DOH has invested over $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 pet waste, using pump out stations for boats and recreational vehicles and managing animal waste from large and small farms.

DOH is responsible for the safety of commercially harvested shellfish in the state and uses national standards to classify all 110 commercial harvest areas. Recreational harvesters can get up-to-date information on the Shellfish Safety Map.