OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced several measures to address China’s action on shellfish imports and to ensure the safety of shellfish from Washington’s waters.
On December 5, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notified the state that China had banned imports of all “molluscan” shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and scallops) from much of the North American west coast. China stated it had detected paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic in geoducks from “Area 67,” which covers the west coast from Alaska to northern California.
Effective immediately, DNR has closed the Redondo tract, a 135-acre area of state-owned aquatic lands in Puget Sound managed by DNR, to commercial harvest of geoducks, and the Puyallup Tribe has concurred. The Redondo tract was identified as the source of China’s concern about high arsenic levels in imported geoducks.
“Out of respect for China’s recent action, DNR is working with sister agencies, including the State Department of Health and NOAA, as well as tribal and industry partners, to investigate China’s concerns,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We know this has been a hardship on our state’s shellfish industry, and we will work diligently to find resolution as quickly as possible. While state and federal testing results to date have not raised any health concerns, we take these steps out of an abundance of caution.”
Goldmark continued, “We also commend the swift action of the Puyallup Tribe to suspend indefinitely their usual and accustomed harvesting on the Redondo tract. Together with DNR’s action today, this means that no geoducks from the area at issue can enter the stream of commerce, domestically or internationally.”
More information about geoduck safety is available on the Department of Health website: http://1.usa.gov/JQw9GQ.
Background regarding DNR’s Wild Stock Geoduck Program can be found here: http://bit.ly/dnr_wild_geoduck.
DNR’s Wild Stock Geoduck Program
DNR is the manager and steward of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, including submerged lands that are home to wild stock geoducks. DNR sells the right to private contractors to harvest geoducks at public auctions several times a year. Half of revenue from these auctions helps pay for managing and restoring state-owned aquatic lands and resources. Wild stock geoducks are harvested by commercial divers between minus 18 and minus 70 feet. Commercial geoduck harvests take place during specific harvest periods and on selected tracts throughout the year.
Media Contact: Peter Lavallee, DNR Communications and Outreach Director, 360-902-1023 (office), (360) 870-3853 (mobile) [email protected].