Washington poised to get tougher with shellfish operators

By Austin Jenkins and KPLU News Staff

Last summer, we brought you a story about gaps in the system that’s supposed to keep Washington shellfish safe to eat. Now state lawmakers appear ready to get tougher with shellfish operators who violate food safety laws.

Early last year, Washington Fish and Wildlife cops shut down a Hood Canal shellfish harvesting operation. They allege G&R Seafood poached $500,ooo worth of oysters and clams from state and private beaches.

But Fish and Wildlife police say even after the business was raided, the company’s owner – who denies any wrongdoing – was spotted selling shellfish at fairs and other public gatherings. But Chief Deputy Mike Cenci says there was nothing his officers could do since it was G&R’s harvesting license <http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/>  that had been yanked:

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Superb video on local ocean acidification

Check out this 9 minute video from Oregon Public Broadcasting on the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish and animals at Tatoosh and the Oregon coast. A very good narrative of what’s happening to us right in our backyard of Tatoosh, and Hood Canal for that matter.


State to take new look at how much fish is safe to eat.

ed- It is somewhat upsetting to read that the tribes found out (through a grant paid for by the taxpayers of the state), that levels of toxins were far higher than thought, or safe, and yet we have had no warning and apparently you could assume they were selling this to restaurants and grocery stores. So the question is, “is it safe to eat crab and flounder caught in Puget Sound?”  The answer appears, at least from reading this article, to be ‘no’.  The good news here is that this approach turns pollution control on it’s head. Instead of allowing pollution and reducing consumption, we now are saying that we are going to allow consumption and reduce pollution to achieve healthy goals.

The problem I see is that how do I know that I’m getting safe fish, if the levels have changed but the pollution is still out there in the fish? That seems oddly backwards. Like pretending that the current safe levels aren’t a factor. I think I need better reporting to assure me that I’m just reading this wrong.


7/25 Seattle Times
State takes new look at how much fish is safe to eat
By Cassandra Brooks
Seattle Times staff reporter
From the shores of Lake Washington to the Duwamish River and other state waters, signs alert locals about toxic fish:
Warning: Fish from these waters contain high levels of mercury.

Caution: Trout contain high levels of DDT.

Advisory: Shellfish contain high PCBs, do not eat!

Under state law, Washington’s lakes, streams, estuaries and nearshore coastal waters only need to be clean enough for residents to safely consume one serving of fish a month.
Yet, for many state residents, local fish and shellfish are a much bigger part of their diet than that, whether it’s bass caught from the dock of a lake, a dozen oysters served up at a waterfront restaurant or salmon grilled on a backyard barbecue.
And for many tribes across Washington, fish are not just central to their diet but a core part of their cultural and spiritual lives as well.
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Oyster Poaching Case Reveals Shellfish Safety Gaps

I visited Peter Downing at his Geoduck farm the other day, and he alluded to this situation. A real dark side to the whole aquaculture world. And the state funding for enforcement is virtually non-existant.  You can’t just legislate stuff, you have to provide money for enforcement, which has been a weak spot for years. Demand enforcement! – Editor

6/17 KPLU-FM

Austin Jenkins
OLYMPIA, WA (N3) – If you ever eat shellfish, you’ll want to listen to this story. A major oyster and clam poaching case has revealed gaps in the system that’s supposed to ensure Washington shellfish are safe to eat. Washington Fish and Wildlife cops recently raided a seafood operation on Hood Canal. They allege an outfit called G&R Quality Seafood was a front for a nighttime shellfish theft ring. KPLU’s Austin Jenkins has our story.
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Oyster Poaching Podcast

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