Annual evaluation of shellfish growing areas yields good news for some, and concerns for others

For immediate release: May 21, 2021   (21-133)Spanish

Contacts: Ginny Streeter, Communications 360-810-1628

Annual evaluation of shellfish growing areas yields good news for some, and concerns for others

OLYMPIA -- The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to evaluate the conditions in and around Washington’s shellfish harvesting areas and make growing area classification changes. This year, based on shoreline pollution, source corrections and improved marine water quality, we’ve upgraded 66 acres in the Hood Canal 6 Shellfish Growing Area and anticipate the upgrade of over 100 acres in the East Passage Shellfish Growing Area in June.

Unfortunately, the annual water quality evaluation will also result in harvest restrictions in four areas, and 18 additional areas are threatened with classification downgrades.  State health officials are working with county partners, shellfish growers and tribal governments to implement the required classification changes and fixing pollution problems in these areas.

Portions of the Annas Bay (Mason County), Pickering Passage -Jones Creek area (Mason County), Port Susan (Snohomish County), and Drayton Harbor (Whatcom County) do not meet public health standards and shellfish harvesting will be restricted. The restrictions will be in place by August. Shellfish harvest areas currently meeting water quality standards, but threatened with restrictions due to bacterial pollution include:

Clallam County – Makah Bay; Grays Harbor County –Pacific Coast; Jefferson County – Kalaloch, Quilcene Bay; Kitsap County – Dyes Inlet, Miller Bay;  Mason County – Annas Bay, North Bay, Oakland Bay, Pickering Passage; Pierce County – Filucy Bay, Vaughn Bay; San Juan County – Upright Channel; Snohomish County – Port Susan, Skagit Bay South; Thurston County – Henderson Inlet; and Whatcom County – Drayton Harbor, Portage Bay.

Since 2011, DOH has invested over $38 million in grants around Puget Sound to help improve water quality. These grants, which are funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program, support pollution identification and correction projects, on-site septic system management programs, research, and shellfish protection districts.

These efforts, combined with other local and state funds, have gone a long way to protect and improve water quality around Washington’s shellfish beds.

People can do their part by maintaining their 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 112 commercial harvest areas. Recreational harvesters can get up-to-date information on the Shellfish Safety Map.

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection


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