Logo

Shellfish/Seaweed Regulations

Fishing Regulations Icon Washington Fishing

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 Emergency 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 PSP/ASP/DSP, Vibrio bacteria or pollution. Permanent WDFW/DOH closures and periodic DOH harvest advisories are shown on Shellfish Safety Information.

DOH Season

WDFW Season

HARVEST STATUS

REASON

Open () Open () Safe & Legal
Open () Closed (X) Illegal Conservation closure or season adjustment
Closed (X) Open () 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 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, 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.

 

Abalone Cannot Be Legally Harvested

Pinto abalone are an endangered species in the State of Washington. Harvest of endangered species such as abalone could result in a felony conviction. The fishery for pinto (aka northern) abalone has been closed since 1994 in order to reverse population declines. Even with the closure, populations have continued to collapse. Between 1992 and 2017, monitored abalone populations have fallen by 97%. Efforts are underway to restore this important species and in order for restoration to succeed, we must protect all remaining wild abalone. A suite of partners has created a hatchery program to raise and outplant juvenile abalone, but this program relies on wild abalone as parents for hatchery production. Wild abalone, particularly those found in small groups, are critical for natural spawning and recovery. Abalone are sensitive to any physical disturbance. If you see one, please do not disturb it; all harvest is prohibited.

Every individual is needed for the future of this species. Help us to restore abalone for generations to come!

Learn more:

Anonymously report poaching:
1-877-933-9847 (Washington);
1-800-465-4336 (B.C.)