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Washington

Fishing

Shellfish/Seaweed Species Rules

For more detailed information about shellfish, please visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species and search by species name. Marine areas subject to seasonal/conservation closures, check the latest emergency rules at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations

Area

Species

Season

Additional Rules

Abalone

All Areas

Pinto

Closed

Surveys show a continued decline in numbers of all size abalone. The closure is necessary to allow recovery of stocks. Abalone have been listed as an endangered species.

Clams, Other Than Razor Clams

Always check the local biotoxin status before harvesting via the biotoxin hotline (1-800-562-5632) or www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety. Biotoxins can present hazards in any clam species, and butter and varnish clams can retain elevated levels of biotoxins for extended periods. Clams can be dug by hand or hand-operated fork, pick, rake, or shovel. Each digger must use a separate container. Digging equipment may be shared. The tide and waves do not quickly refill holes created by harvesters. Unfilled harvesting holes and sediment piles can damage clam habitat and kill clams. Clam harvesters must refill holes created while digging. To reduce clam mortality, please push any undersized or discarded clams into the refilled holes. See year-round harvest closures and advisories on Shellfish Safety Information and area closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Public Beaches

Geoducks

See Shellfish/Seaweed Regulations for season information

No min. size. Daily limit first 3 dug. It is unlawful to thrust any instrument through the neck of a geoduck. It is unlawful to possess only the neck of a geoduck. Geoduck cylinder max diameter is 24" and must be non-mechanized and hand-operated.

Horse Clams

No min. size. Daily limit first 7 dug regardless of size or condition (broken clams count towards limit).

All Other Species (Listed Below)

Daily limit no more than 40 clams, not to exceed 10 lbs. in the shell, all species combined (excluding horse clams and geoducks). For species with a minimum size, measure across longest distance of shell.

Native Littlenecks

Min. size 1½".

Manilas

Min. size 1½".

Butters

Min. size 1½".

Cockles

Min. size 1½".

Eastern Softshells

No min. size.

Varnish

No min. size.

All Other Marine Clams

No min. size.

All Fresh Water Areas

All Species

Closed

Manila Littleneck Clam

Venerupis philippinarum

Average size is 1-2", up to 2½". Oval elongated shell has concentric and radiating lines. Siphon tips are split. Found to 4" below surface.

Native Littleneck Clam

Leukoma staminea

Average size is 1-2", up to 2½". Rounded shell has concentric and radiating lines. Siphon tips are fused. Found 6-10" below surface.

Cockle Clam

Clinocardium nuttallii

Prominent, evenly-spaced ridges which fan out from the hinge. Mottled, light brown. Can grow to 5". Found on or just below surface.

Butter Clam

Saxidomus giganteus

Average size is 3-4", up to 6". Shells have no radiating lines and are usually chalky-white or stained blue. The siphon can be pulled into its shell. Usually found 12-18" below surface. Shell gapes slightly at siphon. Unable to rebury on its own. Push into refilled hole siphon side up.

(Eastern) Softshell clam

Mya arenaria

Can grow to 6". Shells are soft, chalky-white with a rough irregular surface. Shell is rounded at the foot end, pointed at the siphon end. Siphon doesn't have leather-like flap on the tip. Found to 18" below surface. Unable to rebury on its own. Push into refilled hole siphon side up.

Varnish Clam

Nuttallia obscurata

Up to 3", with shiny brown coating on the outside, purple on the inside of shell. Found 3-12" below the surface.

Horse Clam

Tresus nuttallii (shown)

Tresus capax (not shown)

Large, can grow up to 8". Shell is chalky-white with yellow-brown patches of "skin". The siphon can't be pulled into shell and has a leather-like flap on the tip. Found 1-2 feet below surface. Unable to rebury on its own. Push into refilled hole siphon side up.

Geoduck Clam

Panopea generosa

Heavy, oblong shell, rounded at one end. Appears cut-off at the other. The siphon has no leather-like flap on the tip and can't be pulled into the shell. Found 2-3 feet below surface. Can weigh up to 10 lbs. Unable to rebury on its own.

Area

Species

Season

Additional Rules

Crab

See Crab Rules for crab harvest information and Statewide Gear Rules for crab gear rules.

Crayfish (Crawfish)

All Open Waters

Native Species (Signal Crayfish)

1st Mon. in May-Oct. 31

Min. size 3¼" from tip of rostrum (nose) to tip of tail. Daily limit 10 lbs in shell. All females with eggs or young attached must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. No Shellfish/Seaweed license is required. See gear rules on Statewide Gear Rules.

Nonnative Species

1st Mon. in May-Oct. 31

Must be kept in a separate container. Must be dead before being removed from riparian area (immediate vicinity of water body). No daily limit, size, or sex restrictions. No Shellfish/Seaweed license is required. See Statewide Gear Rules.

There is only one native crayfish species in Washington — the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus). This species can be identified by its uniform brownish coloration, white or light coloration of the claw joint ,and the smooth surface of its carapace and claws compared to that of nonnative species. Native crayfish are the only crayfish that may be removed from the vicinity of the waterbody alive. If you cannot positively identify your catch as a nonnative species, the daily limit and other restrictions listed above for native crayfish apply.

How to humanely kill and preserve crayfish: There are two important steps to killing a crayfish quickly and humanely. The first is to chill them in ice or ice slurry for 20-30 minutes, and the second is to pierce their head with a knife.

Goose Barnacles

Caution: for Shellfish Safety and Department of Health contact information see Shellfish Safety Information.

Puget Sound Public Beaches

Year-round

No min. size. Daily limit 10 lbs. whole or 5 lbs. barnacle stalks. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Pacific Ocean Beaches (Outside Olympic National Park)

Nov. 1-Mar. 31

No min. size. Daily limit 10 lbs. whole or 5 lbs. barnacle stalks.

Mussels

Seasons in Puget Sound are the same as clam seasons on each beach. Caution: for Shellfish Safety and Department of Health contact information see Shellfish Safety Information.

Puget Sound Public Beaches

Blue, California, Mediterranean

See Marine Area 12 for season information

No min. size. Daily limit 10 lbs. in shell. See year-round harvest closures and advisories on Shellfish Safety Information and area closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Pacific Ocean Beaches (Outside Olympic National Park)

Blue, California, Mediterranean

Nov. 1-Mar. 31

No min. size. Daily limit 10 lbs. in shell.

All Fresh Water Areas

All Species

Closed


Octopus

Must be caught with hands or instrument which does not penetrate the octopus, except that octopus taken while angling with hook and line may be retained. For Octopus Protection Areas see https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/mpa/octopus-preserve

All Waters except Marine Area 12, Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas, and Octopus Protection Areas

Giant Pacific

Year-round

No min. size. Daily limit 1. No chemicals or irritants allowed. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Marine Area 12, Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas, and Octopus Protection Areas

All Species

CLOSED

See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Area

Species

Season

Additional Rules

Oysters

Caution: for Shellfish Safety and Department of Health contact information see Shellfish Safety Information. Oysters may only be harvested by hand or with a hand-held manually operated prying tool (no hammers, etc.). Each harvester must use a separate container. See year-round harvest closures and advisories on Shellfish Safety Information and area closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Public Beaches

All Species

See Shellfish/Seaweed Regulations for season information

Min. size 2½" measured across longest distance of shell. Daily limit 18. Oysters must be shucked on the beach. Oysters consumed on the beach count toward a limit. Leave shells on the same tideland and tide height where they were taken.

Relic Shells

All Areas

All Species

Year-round All beaches

Daily limit is 5 pounds of all species combined. Take of oyster shells is prohibited. Removal of shells on State Park beaches prohibited. No license required. See Don't Relocate Shells or Shellfish! information on Shellfish Safety Information.

Sand Shrimp

Public Beaches

All Species

Year-round

No min. size. Daily limit 10 dozen. May be harvested only by hand or by hand-operated suction devices. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Scallops

Biotoxin Warning: Scallops may retain elevated levels of marine biotoxins. Currently, Department of Health lists all areas closed for the recreational harvest of scallops due to biotoxins. Before harvesting scallops, check the Department of Health toll-free Shellfish Safety hotline, (800) 562-5632 or www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety.htm. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

All Waters

Pink and Spiny

Year-round

Min. size 2" measured across longest distance of shell. Daily limit 40, combined limit for both species. May be harvested only by hand or with a hand-held manually operated prying tool.

Weathervane

Year-round

Min. size 4". Daily limit 12. Measure across longest distance of the shell.

Rock

Year-round

No min. size. Daily limit 6. Hammers or mallets may not be used to harvest rock scallops.

Sea Cucumbers

Caution: for Shellfish Safety and Department of Health contact information see Shellfish Safety Information. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones. Marine areas subject to seasonal/conservation closures, check the latest emergency rules at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations

All Waters except Marine area 12

California

Year-round

No min. size. Daily limit 18. All other sea cucumber species are unclassified marine invertebrates and may not be harvested. See rules for unclassified marine invertebrates (below).

Marine area 12

All Species

Closed


Sea Urchins

See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

All Waters except Marine area 12

Green

Year-round

Min. size 2 ¼" measured across longest distance of shell, not including spines. Daily limit 18.

Purple

Year-round

Min. size 2 ¼" measured across longest distance of shell, not including spines. Daily limit 18.

Red

Year-round

Min. size 3 ¼" and max. size 5" measured across longest distance of shell, not including spines. Daily limit 18.

White

Year-round

Closed

Marine Area 12

All Species

Year-round

Closed

Seaweed

(Many county and city parks have additional rules or closures. Please check local regulations before harvesting). Wash all seaweed before eating.

All Areas

All Species

Year-round

Daily limit 10 lbs. wet weight. Illegal to harvest any seaweed if herring eggs are attached.

All State Park beaches are closed to seaweed harvest except Fort Flagler, Fort Ebey, and Fort Worden State Parks, which are open to seaweed harvest from April 16-May 15 only. Seaweed harvesting in State Parks is limited to posted park hours and special State Park rules below:

  • Bull kelp must be cut a minimum of 24" above the bulb and short stemmed kelps must be cut a minimum of 12" above the anchor point. The anchor point must be left in place at all times.
  • Only a knife or similar instrument may be used to harvest seaweed. Tearing the plant and use of tined instruments such as rakes or forks is prohibited.
  • Each harvester must use their own container. Multiple limits may not be combined in the same container.
  • Each harvester must use a scale to determine when the harvest limit has been reached. Drying or partial drying prior to weighing is prohibited.

Shrimp

See Shrimp Rules and Statewide Gear Rules for shrimp harvest and gear rules.

Squid

Legal gear is a forage fish jig, a maximum of 4 squid lures, forage fish dip net, or a handheld dip net. Each harvester must have a separate container. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas and Shellfish Protection Zones.

All Waters

Market Squid and all other species

Year-round

No min. size. Daily limit is 5 qts. or 10 lbs.

Humboldt Squid

Year-round

Daily limit is 5 squid.

Unclassified Marine Invertebrates

All Areas

All Species

Closed

See Definitions. Examples below.

Japanese Oyster Drill Snail A voracious, invasive predator of marine bivalves. Shell up to 1½" with ornate ridges. Snail and yellow/orange egg capsules commonly attached to shells and living oysters. It is unlawful to transfer this species or its eggs from one beach to another; it is also unlawful to transfer any shellfish or shells from one beach to another without a permit. See “Don’t Relocate Shells or Shellfish!”.

Native Oyster Drill Snail

Sand Dollar

Moon Snail

Shore Crab

Kelp Crab

Pacific Graceful Crab

Sea Star

Sea star, sand dollar, Pacific graceful and shore crabs photos courtesy of Wendy Feltham.

Washington