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Whatcom County Public Works

Shellfish of Whatcom County

Shellfish are an important resource. In 1999, almost 44 million pounds of shellfish, valued at $79 million, were harvested commercially from Washington waters. The term shellfish encompasses a broad group of organisms including oysters, clams, crabs, shrimp and mussels.

There are numerous shellfish in the Puget Sound waters. Here is just a partial listing of some of the shellfish that can be found in Whatcom County's coastal waters:

Geoduck clams
Native littleneck clams
Butter clams
Pacific oysters
Dungeness crab
Horse clams
Manila clams
Cockle clams
Red rock crab

For more information on the shellfish in our waters, check out the Marine Fact Sheets or check out the shellfish harvesting rules so you know what you can harvest and when and where it is legal to harvest.

Many areas around Washington state, as well as around the country, have been closed to the harvesting of shellfish due to declines in water quality over the shellfish beds. The State Department of Health provides information on closed recreational shellfish beds.

Whatcom County currently has two areas that are closed to commercial shellfish harvesting due to degraded water quality. Drayton Harbor has a seasonal closure for a portion of the harbor from November through January each year with the other portion of the harbor closed to shellfish harvest year round. Birch Bay is closed to shellfish harvest year round at the mouth of Terrell Creek. Portage Bay is currently threatened with a shellfish closure due to elevated bacteria levels at four marine monitoring stations.


Whatcom County Public Works - Natural Resources
322 N. Commercial St, Suite 110, Bellingham, WA 98225 USA
Contact Us:  (360) 676-6876 • Office Hours M-F 8:00a.m. to 4:30p.m.