Shellfish from Eld and Henderson Inlets face potential restrictions, state says

But it's okay to eat 'em for now


Thurston County's Eld Inlet and Henderson Inlet are among fifteen shellfish harvest areas in the state facing potential harvest restrictions due to heightened levels of fecal bacteria in the water.

Annually, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) evaluates the state’s commercial shellfish growing areas, analyzing water sample data and identifying potential sources of pollution.

According to data collected through 2023, portions of growing areas in Mason County’s Annas Bay and Clallam County’s Dungeness Bay failed to meet stringent public health water quality standards.

While these areas currently remain open, their classification will undergo re-evaluation.

Additional areas under threat of harvest changes due to fecal pollution levels include:

  • Grays Harbor County’s Grays Harbor and Pacific Coast
  • Kitsap County’s Dyes Inlet
  • Liberty Bay, and Miller Bay
  • Mason County’s Hood Canal 6
  • Pacific County’s Bay Center
  • Pierce County’s Wollochet Bay
  • San Juan County’s Upright Channel
  • Snohomish County’s Port Susan and Skagit Bay South

However, shellfish in these fifteen areas are still deemed safe for consumption.

On a positive note, water quality has shown improvement in five areas this year, possibly leading to the lifting of shellfish harvest restrictions, namely:

  • Whatcom County’s Portage Bay
  • Snohomish County’s Port Susan
  • Jefferson County’s Hood Canal 3 (Dosewallips area)
  • Pierce County’s Vaughn Bay
  • Rocky Bay

DOH, in collaboration with state, local, and tribal governments, has invested over $40 million since 2011 from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Puget Sound Geographic Funds to prevent pollution.

The $7 million from this fund has supported various initiatives, including on-site sewage programs, nonpoint pollution identification and correction programs, livestock manure management strategies, and wastewater treatment plant improvements beginning last year.

Scott Berbells, Shellfish Growing Area Section manager at DOH, emphasized the importance of individual efforts in maintaining water cleanliness.

"Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to keeping our water clean. People can do their part by maintaining their septic systems, picking up pet waste, using pump out stations for boats and recreational vehicles, and managing animal waste from farms,” Berbells stated.

Recreational harvesters can visit the Shellfish Safety Map for the latest harvest information.


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  • ChuckCross

    This article does no favors for the Department of Health. Spending over $40 million since 2011, and only $7 million attributed to on-site sewage programs, nonpoint pollution identification and correction programs, livestock manure management strategies, and wastewater treatment plant improvements?? Apparently all of this money has pinpointed the major areas of water pollution -- wondering if the 40 million also pinpointed the major pollution sources for these waters? For some reason this writer does not believe that pet waste and animal waste from farms rank as major water polluters.

    Saturday, May 11 Report this

  • Boatyarddog


    Not so hard to believe...

    Upland Farms contribute to Dechutes River Pollution usually measured in Spring so testing reflects runoff from animal waste used as fertlizer.

    Saturday, May 11 Report this