The Departments of Health and Fish and Wildlife recently partnered to make recreational shellfish harvest seasons available on the Department of Health’s online Shellfish Safety Map.
In addition to up-to-date public health information, visitors to the website can now see harvest seasons for Washington’s public beaches. Prior to these changes, harvesters had to check with both agencies to make sure a beach was open or drive to the public beach and look for signage.
“The enhancement to the online map is in response to the public’s feedback for an easier way to find out if a beach is open or closed,” said Scott Berbells, Shellfish Growing Area Section manager. “We believe people will find it easier to determine if it’s safe and legal to harvest before making the trip to their favorite beach.”
Visitors to the interactive map can select a beach location to get the current health status, harvest seasons, and links to the WDFW website where they can find helpful information.
Health-based harvest restrictions can change daily, so shellfish harvesters should check the Shellfish Safety Map for the latest information. Shellfish act as filters, and they can retain harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxins that can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The Department of Health’s Recreational Shellfish Program evaluates pollution conditions around publicly accessible shellfish areas and restricts harvest when necessary. WDFW sets beach harvest seasons based on the amount of clams and oysters on a beach and harvest agreements established between Washington state and the treaty tribes.