Most beaches in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca are scheduled to open for recreational clam, mussel, and oyster harvest on June 8, while other areas will open later in the summer as previously planned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Opening this year has taken longer than expected due to COVID-19 related challenges and public health considerations, said Camille Speck, Puget Sound intertidal bivalve manager for WDFW.
“It took a lot of coordination, but we are happy to have found a way to work with communities and access managers to provide harvest opportunity and the enjoyment that comes from a day out on the beach,” said Speck. “We are also happy to announce some season shifts and extensions on a number of beaches to help make up for opportunity lost during the unprecedented coronavirus closures.”
The approved dates reflect a conscious effort to offer harvest while still abiding by public health recommendations, such as keeping participants distributed, allowing physical distancing, limiting travel and discouraging overnight stays, she added.
WDFW is asking for cooperation from shellfish harvesters to reduce risk. “Patience and courtesy will be needed at public access sites,” said Speck. Because some popular parks are operating with reduced staffing and may have limitations on parking, harvesters should check for current conditions at the park they intend to visit and adhere to health authorities’ advice for physical distancing.
Clam, mussel, and oyster harvesting seasons are beach specific in Puget Sound. Harvesters are encouraged to check current seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/shellfish-beaches. In addition, water quality conditions may change quickly. All harvesters should check the Department of Health status for the site they intend to harvest the same day they plan to harvest. Harvest seasons and current health advisories and closures are available via the state’s Shellfish Safety Map at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety.
2020 Puget Sound clam, mussel, and oyster season changes and extensions. The following reflect adjustments from original 2020 seasons to make up for opportunity lost during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy-related closure:
- Ala Spit County Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open Aug. 1-31.
- Belfair State Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open two weeks early on July 15 and remain open through Dec. 31.
- Dosewallips State Park: opens June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clams and mussels close Sept. 30. Oysters remain open through December 31.
- Eagle Creek: opens June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clam and mussel seasons are extended by two weeks to close on Sept. 15. Oysters remain open through Dec. 31.
- Frye Cove County Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open Aug. 1-31.
- Hope Island State Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open Aug. 1-31.
- Point Whitney Tidelands and Point Whitney Lagoon: open June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clams and mussels close June 30. Oysters remain open through Aug. 31.
- Port Gamble Heritage Park Tidelands: clams, mussels, and oysters open two weeks early on July 1 and remain open through December 31.
- Potlatch State Park and Potlatch DNR: clams, mussels, and oysters open June 8 and seasons are extended for two months to remain open through Sept. 30.
- Sequim Bay State Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open June 8 and are extended by two weeks to close on July 15.
- Triton Cove Tidelands: opens June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clam and mussel seasons are extended by two weeks to close on Sept. 15. Oysters remain open through December 31.
- Marine Area 4 remains closed until further notice.
In all areas of Puget Sound, harvesters are limited to the daily bag limit of up to 40 clams, not to exceed 10 pounds in the shell, and 18 oysters per person, removed from the shell on the beach and shells left at the same approximate tide height where they were harvested. Shucked oyster shells provide critical habitat for young oysters.
A valid 2020-21 combination license, shellfish license, or Fish Washington license is required to participate in the fishery.
A two page copy of current clam, mussel, and oyster seasons may be printed from the link at the top of the website page wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/shellfish-beaches. A printable shellfish identification chart is also available in the same website location.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.
Today’s announcement does not open additional razor clam digging days on the coast.
For the latest updates on WDFW’s response to the coronavirus, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates.