Shellfish Program

What is the Shellfish Program?

The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) Shellfish Program uses a targeted approach to invest in projects voluntarily installed by conservation districts and landowners that build cumulative results for shellfish recovery. Priority is given to “project clusters” within a watershed or stream reach where there’s a water quality concern.

Shellfish program accomplishments

Program Quick Facts

  • Program funds supports manure management, livestock exclusion, stream restoration, and other projects that improve water quality in shellfish areas.
  • In fiscal year 2019 alone, conservation districts assisted landowners with 150 projects that help protect water quality in areas where shellfish are grown and/or harvested.
  • Conservation districts have used Shellfish Program funding for projects that were part of efforts that resulted in the upgrade of thousands of acres of shellfish growing areas in Dungeness Bay, Birch Bay, and Drayton Harbor.

Why the Shellfish Program matters

Pollutants flowing into Puget Sound and the Pacific coast periodically cause shellfish growing areas to close. These closures threaten our state’s shellfish industry – which generates an estimated 2,700 jobs and over $70 million in labor income per year – and our obligation to provide shellfish for tribal harvest.

Our Shellfish Program helps fund voluntary, watershed-based efforts that are proven-effective at improving water quality and re-opening shellfish growing areas. The program also supports Governor Inslee’s Shellfish Initiative and the Puget Sound Action Agenda strategic initiative to recover shellfish beds.

How it works

Conservation districts with a service area that includes watersheds or stream reaches that flow into shellfish growing areas are eligible for Shellfish Program funding. View the full program guidelines (for conservation districts).

More information

  • For general questions about the Shellfish Program, please contact Alison Halpern, 360-280-5556.
  • For conservation districts who have questions about Shellfish Program funding, please contact Karla Heinitz, 360-407-6212.
“The two years of planning, preparation, tear down, rebuilding, and completion of the heavy use area was a wonderful experience… Working together makes our creeks cleaner, our environment healthier, and the planet better for generations to come.” – Jeff Stokes, Kitsap County farmer on his experience working with Kitsap Conservation District to install best management practices

Meet the Team

Ron Shultz
Director of Policy