This indicator tracks changes in the classification of harvestable shellfish beds in Puget Sound. The Washington State Department of Health classifies 108 shellfish growing areas in Puget Sound to assure that harvested shellfish are safe to consume. The data collected for the classification process represent the conditions that dictate shellfish harvest and their trends provide information on marine water quality in Puget Sound.
Area (acres) of harvestable shellfish beds where the Washington Department of Health classification has changed. Upgrades in classification mean that water quality has improved, allowing for fewer restrictions on shellfish harvest. Downgrades mean there are either more restrictions on when shellfish may be harvested or harvest is not allowed. Cumulative change in area over time is shown by the blue line.
Key Vital Sign Indicator Results
There was an overall increase in cumulative net area of harvestable shellfish beds since 2007, including from the prohibited category; therefore, the indicator is making progress toward the 2020 recovery target.
The shellfish growing areas in Puget Sound cover roughly 257,000 acres. About 87% (222,000 acres) of the shellfish growing areas are suitable for harvest.
From 2007 (the baseline reference year) through 2020, more acres of shellfish beds were upgraded than downgraded across all classifications, resulting in a net increase of 6,659 acres of harvestable shellfish beds (gain of 13,838 acres, loss of 7,179 acres). During the same time period, a net 5,554 acres of shellfish beds were upgraded from the Prohibited classification (6,692 acres upgraded from Prohibited minus 1,138 acres downgraded to Prohibited).
The upgrades in growing area classifications since 2007 were dramatically offset by the 2011 downgrade of the Samish Bay shellfish growing area (4,037 acres), impacting the overall net acreage gained and slowing progress toward the 2020 target.
The current cumulative net increase since 2007 in harvestable shellfish acres is 62% of the 2020 recovery target.
A net increase of 10,800 harvestable shellfish acres between 2007 and 2020, including 7,000 acres where harvest had been prohibited.
Washington State Department of Health, Office of Environmental Health and Safety