What are shellfish?
Shellfish are prized resources of the Pacific Northwest. The cool, clean waters of the Puget Sound provide some of the finest shellfish habitat in the whole entire world. The Washington State is the nation’s leading producer of farmed bivalve shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, geoduck), with annual sales of approximately $100,000,000 and and major contributions from Puget Sound shellfish farms.
Additional significant revenues are generated from recreational shellfish harvesting and the state’s commercial geoduck fishery.
What seems to be the problem?
Puget Sound provides and estimated 165,000 acres of shoreline for shellfish harvest, according to the Washington Department of Health. Of that total, Health has classified about 28,000 acres (approximately 17%) as restricted or prohibited for commercial and recreational harvest.
Pollution from a variety of sources, mainly sewage pollution, threatens the shoreline areas where oysters, clams, as well as other bivalve shellfish grow.
Resource managers are focusing significant attention on controlling the sources of pollution to keep the region’s shellfish growing areas clean and open for recreational, commercial and tribal harvesting.
What are the key threats to shellfish habitat?
The region’s large and fast-growing population poses a significant challenge to keeping our shoreline waters clean and preserving shellfish-harvest opportunities across the region.
In addition to and partly as a result of population growth, the following are the primary sources of pollution threatening shellfish growing areas:
What is being done?
For two decades, the ‘Puget Sound Partnership‘, local and state governments, tribes, growers and citizen groups have made great progress in protecting and restoring water quality for shellfish harvesting. This work must continue to ensure the resource remains healthy.