Shellfish Harvesting

The Shellfish Resources program works to ensure the safe harvest of shellfish for all residents of Island County and visitors to Island County.  Staff coordinates beach posting and media notification if necessary for Marine Biotoxin (Paralytic Shellfish Poison – PSP) or pollution closures with the Washington State Department of Health, Office of Shellfish and Water Protection. Staff also coordinates shellfish sampling volunteers with Washington State Department of Health. Staff responds to a variety of public inquiries regarding shellfish harvesting and the current status of all shellfish harvesting sites in the county.  Staff will also respond and investigate any report of illness associated with eating shellfish. 

The mission of the Shellfish Protection Program is to improve the health of people in Island County by ensuring shellfish are safe to eat and beaches are safe for swimming. The recreational beaches of Island County offer a wealth of shellfish for you and your family to gather and enjoy. Clams and mussels may be found at many of these beaches and may be collected and consumed safely throughout the year. Some of these beaches, however, may have seasonal restrictions or be closed to prevent over-harvesting. All of them may be subject to health restrictions at any time of the year.

Before you dig, see the state Department of Health's Shellfish Safety Map

For more information on license fees and requirements, please contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife or consult their current Sport Fishing Rules. 

  • Have a question about recreational shellfish harvesting in Island County? Download our Shellfish FAQs (pdf) for answers.
  • If you are interested in environmental justice and how it relates to recreational shellfish harvesting, visit the Shellfish Harvest Closure Risk Map: Puget Sound *

    * This map was developed by a research team at Oregon State University to visualize survey responses on subjective human well-being in the Puget Sound in 2018 and 2020. The two human well-being indicators shown in this map are reported frequency of individual shellfish harvests and reported race, shown as overlays to shellfish harvest closures in the Puget Sound. Its purpose is to identify locations and times that may have implications for environmental justice -- through the intersection of frequent harvesters, non-white populations, and high-duration shellfish harvest closures.