Harvesting Your Own

Rules of the Road for Gathering Shellfish on Your Own!

Each year, thousands of residents and visitors flock to ocean beaches and estuaries with shovels, rakes and buckets in hand to take part in the West Coast’s vibrant bivalve shellfish sport fishery. Consumers should be aware of some potential food safety issues associated with bivalve shellfish (i.e. clams, oysters, scallops, mussels, cockles, geoduck), other molluscan shellfish (i.e. whelks and periwinkles) and crab. These animals are highly sensitive to the quality of their marine environment. Because they feed themselves by filtering microscopic organisms from the water, harmful bacteria, viruses and biotoxins from their surroundings can build up in their tissues and cause illness in people who consume them. Shellfish with toxins or bacteria don’t look or taste any different from non-threatening shellfish. Regardless of season, check before you dig!

State Shellfish Regulations