Shellfish Harvest Site Certification

All sites used to harvest or store shellfish by commercial shellfish companies must be approved by our office. Our Shellfish Licensing and Certification staff work with Growing Area staff making sure water quality in the area is safe for shellfish harvest and storage and to make sure the site is not impacted by pollution and use the Harvest Site Certificates to identify and contact impacted shellfish companies when a closure is necessary. Harvest Site Certification is required by WAC 246-282-012.

Certificate Process

Licensed shellfish companies wanting to add a harvest site to their approved harvest areas must complete an application and submit it to our office. The application can be completed electronically but must be printed and signed. After signature, they can be mailed or scanned and attached to an email.

Applications must include a map showing the legal boundaries of the site. The Commercial Shellfish Map Viewer is a useful tool to identify the parcel. Under “More Data” can select the “County Parcels” layer to identify parcel boundaries. From this layer it is possible to use the identify tool to identify the parcel and link to the county assessor's site and document the legal owner of the parcel.

When applying for a Harvest Site Certificate, we require documentation showing the company has a legal right to harvest from the site. For parcels owned by a private landowner, the company must submit a lease agreement to include:

Tribal Notification

When a company applies for a Harvest Site Certificate we make the information available to Washington's Treaty Tribes. After notifying the Tribes, we wait 30 days before certifying the Harvest Site Certificate request. This allows Tribes the opportunity to review pending harvest sites with regard to Tribal harvest rights as appropriate under the Federal Shellfish Implementation Plan.

If we are notified that Tribal review is completed in less than 30 days, we proceed with processing the Harvest Site Certificate request. For more on Tribal harvest rights, visit the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission or review Commercial Harvesting and Cultivating Shellfish on Private Land (PDF).

If you intend to cultivate shellfish you are required to provide notice to the Tribes under Section 6.3 of Shellfish Implementation Plan. Washington State and the Treaty Tribes, developed a notice to help you meet this requirement. If you complete and submit the Grower's Notice of Intent Form (PDF) with your harvest site application we will forward it to the affected treaty tribes. You may also mail the form directly to the tribes.


When a site is approved, it is listed on that company's Harvest Site Certificate. A Harvest Site Certificate is required for any company harvesting shellfish. The shellfish company must have a copy of the Harvest Site Certificate in their possession at all times when conducting commercial shellfish activities and must make the Harvest Site Certificate available upon request. It is the shellfish company's responsibility to notify the Department of Health of any changes to their Harvest Site Certification.

Lease Extension and Expiration

If a company intends to continue harvesting on a site they should provide updated lease agreement to re-certify the site prior to a lease's expiration. To update the Harvest Site Certificate a lease extension agreement is required, but the company does not need to submit a new application or supply the supporting documentation that is required with a new application.

If a lease extension is not provided to the Department of Health prior to expiration, then the site will be removed from the Harvest Site Certificate and the company must submit a new application. The new application will follow the Tribal notification process.

Harvest Site Renewal and Removal

If an agreement ends between a shellfish company and landowner prior to the lease expiration date then a site can be withdrawn from the Harvest Site Certificate. The shellfish company should contact the Department of Health and request that the site be removed. A site may also be removed from a Harvest Site Certificate if the property's ownership changes causing discontinued harvest for the parcel or if there is a change in the classification of the area and it is no longer safe to harvest shellfish.

More Resources

Have questions? Contact us at 360-236-3330 or

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