Shellfish Protection


Shellfish are filter feeders and a useful indicator of water quality. Shellfish must be consistently monitored to ensure they're safe to eat.  Eating shellfish can be dangerous to your health if they are affected by pollution or marine biotoxins. Marine biotoxins, produced by certain algae, can make people sick or even cause death.

Shellfish Classification

Shellfish growing areas are classified by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) using guidelines from the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP). DOH uses five classifications: 

  • approved
  • conditionally approved
  • restricted
  • prohibited
  • unclassified

 Shellfish growing area classifications are determined by shoreline surveys to identify pollution sources and marine water quality sampling for fecal coliform bacteria. DOH regularly monitors all active growing areas and compiles annual reports including updated classifications.

View map (PDF) of shellfish growing area classifications throughout Washington State.