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Washington

Fishing

Shellfish/Seaweed Regulations

3 Steps to Safe and Legal Shellfish Harvest — It's your responsibility!

  1. Know the Rules and the Seasons (You could get a ticket)

    Is the harvesting season open? Read the rules for size and bag limits. All seasons for clams, mussels, and oysters are beach-specific. For open beach seasons, check the website https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/shellfish-beaches or contact the WDFW customer service desk (360) 902-2700 to verify seasons. Beach-specific seasons are also displayed at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety. Any emergency rule changes are listed on the WDFW website or call the toll-free WDFW Shellfish Rule Change Hotline (866) 880-5431.

  2. Pollution Closures (You could get sick)

    Does the beach meet standards for healthy eating? Some closures and advisories are shown on Shellfish Safety Information. For more detailed information and current updates, visit the Washington Department of Health website at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety, call (360) 236-3330 or the local health department. County health department phone numbers are published in the government pages of local telephone directories.

  3. Marine Biotoxin Closures and Vibrio Warnings (You could get sick or die)

    Is there an emergency closure due to Shellfish Poisoning (PSP/ASP/DSP) or Vibrio bacteria? Water quality conditions can change quickly. On the day you plan to harvest, check the DOH website at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety, call (360) 236-3330, or the Shellfish Safety toll-free Hotline at (800) 562-5632.

Two different state agencies are responsible for two different types of recreational shellfish harvest closures. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is responsible for conservation closures or season adjustments. These closures are designed to protect and conserve intertidal shellfish populations. The Washington Department of Health (DOH) is responsible for human health-related closures in response to potentially life-threatening environmental conditions, which result from Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)/Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP)/Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP), Vibrio bacteria, or pollution, as described in the Shellfish Safety section on Shellfish Safety Information. Permanent WDFW/DOH closures and periodic DOH harvest advisories are shown on Shellfish Safety Information.

Clam, Mussel, and Oyster Shellfish Beach Status Key

WDFW Season

Doh Status

Harvest Status

Reason

Open ()

Open ()

Safe & Legal

Closed (X)

Open ()

Illegal

Conservation closure or season adjustment

Open ()

Closed (X)

Not Safe

Potentially life-threatening environmental conditions

Closed (X)

Closed (X)

Not Safe & Illegal

Licenses

A Combination or a Shellfish/Seaweed License is required for all shellfish (except crawfish) and seaweed harvest. A catch record card, and endorsement is required to fish for Dungeness crab in Puget Sound (See License Requirements, License Information).

Possession Limit

One daily limit in fresh form. Any additional shellfish in possession must be in a frozen or processed form that clearly distinguishes them from that day’s limit.

Designated Harvesters

Persons with a disability must have a designated harvester companion card issued by WDFW if using another harvester to assist them with their catch. The person harvesting the catch on behalf of the licensee with a disability must be in possession of the designated harvester companion card while assisting the person with a disability. Both the harvester and the person with a disability must be licensed. The licensee is also required to be in the direct line of sight of the designated harvester who is harvesting shellfish for them. If this is not possible, the licensee is required to be within ¼ mile of the designated harvester who is harvesting shellfish for them.

Tideland Ownership

Most Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay beaches are privately owned. Shellfish and Seaweed may not be taken from private beaches without the owner's or lessee's permission. Private tideland owners and lessees, and members of their immediate family (grandparents, parents, spouse, siblings, children, and grandchildren) are exempt from personal use daily limits when taking clams, oysters, and mussels harvested for their own personal use from their own tidelands. Daily limits apply for all other shellfish, and seaweed, all other people, and all other beaches. Everyone harvesting shellfish in excess of the daily limit from private beaches for presumed commercial purposes needs a shellfish certification from the Department of Health (see RCW 69.30.010(8)).

Note: Razor clam seasons occur only after clam samples have been tested by Washington Department of Health (DOH) and are found to be safe for human consumption. See Razor Clam Rules.

Washington