Shellfish harvest restrictions lifted on 27 acres in Birch Bay

Improved sewage management allowed the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to remove commercial shellfish harvesting restrictions on 27 acres in Birch Bay.

In a statement released on August 30, the DOH said nearly 700 acres of commercial shellfish beds throughout the Puget Sound will no longer be classified as prohibited.

“Over the past 20 years, progress has been made to reduce the potential for sewage discharge from boats and this includes better waste-holding capacity in most boats, increased boat waste pump out stations and the implementation of a ‘No Discharge Zone’ throughout the Puget Sound,” according to the statement.

It continued, “The improvements have led to better water quality, a lower illness risk to people who eat shellfish and greater protection of public health.”

The no discharge zone went into effect for all recreational vessels operating in the Puget Sound last May and banned the discharge of treated and untreated sewage.

The zone includes all marine waters in Washington state that lie within the line between New Dungeness and Discover Island lighthouses and up to the Canadian border; Lake Washington and all water bodies that are connected it to Puget Sound are also included in the zone.

Vessels are required to use a pump-out station or wait until they’re out of the zone. Most recreational boats have holding tanks or require a marine sanitation device.

The rule was imposed as part of a larger effort by the DOH to upgrade or open approximately 1,000 acres of commercial shellfish beds for harvesting near marinas.

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