Safeguard Our Shellfish campaign aims to protect local seafood

A shellfish grower holds oyster seed. Photo by WDFW.

With over 3,000 miles of shoreline, Washington has diverse coastal habitats and shellfish species. Washington shellfish account for thousands of jobs, provide myriad recreational opportunities, and are culturally significant to many people. The aquaculture industry here is the leading producer of shellfish in the United States!

To help protect this important resource, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) shellfish, aquatic invertebrate, and seaweed health team has partnered with the Washington Invasive Species Council (WISC) on the Safeguard Our Shellfish campaign.

The Safeguard Our Shellfish campaign aims to protect local shellfish against harmful invaders — from those you can see, like European green crabs, to microscopic bacteria and viruses — that can cause shellfish to become sick or die. While not harmful to humans, invasive shellfish pests and diseases can result in the loss of important ecosystems, aquaculture products, and cultural practices.

“Shellfish are an integral part of our way of life in Washington,” said Katy Davis, WDFW’s shellfish and seaweed health unit lead. “When purchasing or harvesting seafood, there are many ways to prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases. If we all work together, we can help conserve our state’s resources for generations to come.”

WDFW shellfish health team members check out a shellfish growing area.

Do your part to keep Washington’s shellfish and ecosystems healthy!

When buying shellfish:

· Never re-introduce shellfish — dead or alive — into the wild.

· Don’t hang shellfish off the dock or discard shells into state waters.

· Try to buy local. Know where your seafood comes from and encourage traceability.

When harvesting shellfish:

· On public beaches, follow Washington harvest rules to help conserve shellfish for future generations.

· Leave oyster shells at the location and tide height of harvest.

· Clean your boots and boat before and after leaving the water.

· Report all invasive species sightings using the WA Invasives mobile app or at

WDFW may authorize some activities with proper permits on a case-by-case basis. Refer to our website for more information.

Learn more at:

Watch out for hitchhikers! A non-native snail got stuck in the treads of this boot during a WDFW tidelands survey. Photo by WDFW.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.