Water quality evaluation leads to commerical shellfish harvest restrictions

OLYMPIA — Commercial shellfish harvesting has been restricted on the Hood Canal near the Duckabush River in East Jefferson County after an annual evaluation of water quality found high bacterial levels.

Hood Canal No. 3, another commercial shell fish harvesting area, could be restricted in the near future, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday.

The evaluation led to six of the state’s 105 commercial shellfish areas. An additional 16 areas meet water quality standards now but are threatened with restriction because of periodic bacterial pollution, the state said.

The state Department of Health uses national water quality standards to classify commercial shellfish harvesting areas.

In addition to the East Jefferson County site, the state also restricted harvesting at Annas Bay and North Bay in Mason County, Rocky Bay in Pierce County, Swinomish in Skagit County and Port Susan in Snohomish County.

State health officials said they are working with local public health and county partners as well as shellfish growers to implement plans to find and fix pollution problems in these areas.

“We need clean water for safe shellfish harvesting,” said Rick Porso, director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “Protecting and improving water quality is important for public health and our state’s economy.”

Shellfish harvesting areas that currently meet water quality standards but are threatened with restrictions include Grays Habor; Penn Cove in Island County; Dyes Inlet in Kitsap County; Bay Center in Pacific County; Burley Lagoon, Rocky Bay and Vaughn Bay in Pierce County; Port Susan and South Skagit Bay in Snohomish County; and Eld Inlet and Henderson Inlet in Thurston County.

In most cases, only part of the shellfish growing area is listed as threatened.

A map of the 2017 threatened shellfish growing areas is available at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-shellfishmap.

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