The Washington State Department of Health licenses and inspects commercial and recreational shellfish operations for safety and quality. Clallam County Health regularly sends samples to DOH labs, and utilizes health information provided by the department.
It is important to have a plan before going out to harvest shellfish. Always check for beach closures either online or by calling the 24-hour Marine Biotoxin (Red Tide) hotline at 1-800-562-5632. If you have additional questions contact the Shellfish Safety program directly at 360-236-3330 or the local health department of the area being harvested during weekday business hours. Beaches closed for recreational shellfishing will also have signs posted on site for public education of health hazards. Not all species are restricted at all times, so become familiar with different species to be able to identify species that are safe for harvest.
Molluscan shellfish are filter-feeders that ingest small particles from their surroundings, including biotoxins. Under certain circumstances, marine biotoxins ingested from eating shellfish can lead to serious health consequences. Most toxins are produced by algae and are not visibly noticeable or able to be cooked out of the shellfish, and have no antidote. Be sure to acquaint yourself with possible hazards related to shellfish consumption.