Shellfish Beds
About 36,000 acres of shellfish beds - approximately 19% – are closed due to pollution sources.
Indicator Lead: Scott Berbells, Washington State Department of Health
Data last updated on June 15, 2015
Photo Credit: Taylor Shellfish Farms

Importance to Puget Sound recovery

At low tide, the waters of Puget Sound reveal an amazing abundance of oysters, clams, mussels, and more—a bounty unparalleled elsewhere. Gathering shellfish is a time-honored tradition for the public, and today it is an industry that supports thousands of jobs and brings millions of dollars into the region.

Around Puget Sound, there are approximately 190,000 acres of classified commercial and recreational shellfish beds. However, about 36,000 acres of shellfish beds—or 19%—are closed due to pollution, most of which comes from fecal bacteria from humans, livestock, and pets. When fecal bacteria and other contaminants get into the water, they threaten the areas where these prized oysters, clams, and other bivalve shellfish grow.

What you can do

  1. Manage manure: Collect, cover and compost. If you keep livestock, follow manure management practices. Your local Conservation District can provide you free technical assistance and will work with property owners to develop a waste management plan.
  2. Inspect and maintain your on-site sewage system – see see Septic System Care at Puget Sound Starts Here.
  3. Pick up dog poop and put it in the trash.
  4. Use porta potties when near rivers.
  5. Plant and maintain native vegetation around your property. For more information on native plants, visit Dept. of Ecology's website or the Washington Native Plant Society.
  6. Enjoy eating Puget Sound shellfish safely by consulting Washington Department of Health or local shellfish advisories.

What our partners are doing

View Near Term Actions helping to advance this Vital Sign

Links for more information

Washington State Department of Health: Recreational Shellfish Program ("know before you dig")

Washington State Department of Health: Office of Shellfish and Water Protection

Quality assurance: National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) Guide for the Control of Molluscan Shellfish: 2011 Revision

Shellfish beds interactive map viewer

Results Washington Shellfish goal

Results Washington Shellfish results