Photo courtesy of Kristian Marson.
Photo courtesy of Kristian Marson.

Hood Canal means shellfish

Shellfish are essential to the culture, identity, and economy of the Hood Canal region. They provide important environmental values by protecting shorelines and cleaning waters. Native shellfish include geoduck, littleneck, horse, butter, cockle, and bentnose clams; Olympia oysters; and blue mussels and naturalized bivalves (e.g., Pacific oyster and Manila clam), excluding crabs and shrimp. Shellfish are a key element of a healthy and functional Hood Canal. Established and productive shellfish populations:

  • Stabilize marine sediments and shorelines
  • Improve water quality and clarity through bio-filtration
  • Provide structural habitat for other nearshore and marine organisms

Shellfish are also a cultural cornerstone in the region. People value shellfish because they provide opportunities for:

  • Subsistence harvest for Native American tribes
  • Ceremonial harvest and maintenance of cultural heritage
  • Recreational harvest
  • Economic impact (e.g., motel and restaurant visits, rentals, license fees, etc.)
  • Nearshore habitat restoration and enhancement

The Integrated Watershed Plan (IWP) goal is to ensure healthy bivalve populations throughout Hood Canal to enhance the ecological health of the marine environment and provide recreational, subsistence, and ceremonial harvest on designated public and private tidelands.

Our shellfish thrive in clean water

Shellfish management is complicated because of the complex pattern of tideland ownership. Some tidelands are privately owned and others are publically owned. Shellfish populations are managed cooperatively by state and tribal governments. Harvest plans are developed to preserve, protect, and perpetuate shellfish resources while providing equal sharing of allowable harvest. Washington State Department of Health monitors shellfish growing areas to ensure that they meet water quality standards.

There are a number of large-scale, state and regional efforts designed to address the key challenges facing achievement of Integrated Watershed Plan (IWP) shellfish goals, including:

Learn more about how you can help protect our shellfish resources, including information from your local Public Health department on septic system care and options for homeowner assistance, like the Craft3 Clean Water Loan Program, which provides financial support for residents facing costly septic repairs and replacements.