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Shellfish Regulations by Area and Species

For comprehensive information on shellfish regulations, please visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website and search by the specific species name. Additionally, for updates on seasonal and conservation closures in marine areas, refer to the latest emergency rules at WDFW's shellfishing regulations page.

Abalone Regulations

  • Area: All Areas
  • Species: Pinto Abalone
  • Season: Closed
  • Additional Rules: Due to a significant decline in abalone numbers, all sizes of abalone are subject to closure to facilitate stock recovery efforts. Abalone have been classified as an endangered species, necessitating conservation measures.

Clams (Other than Razor Clams)

  • Public Beaches:

    • Geoducks: Refer to Shellfish/Seaweed Regulations for seasonal details. No minimum size requirement. Daily limit allows for the first 3 dug.
    • Horse Clams: No minimum size. Daily limit includes the first 7 dug, irrespective of size or condition.
    • All Other Species: Daily limit not to exceed 40 clams, totaling no more than 10 lbs. in the shell across all species (excluding horse clams and geoducks). Species with a minimum size requirement must be measured accordingly.
  • Native Littlenecks, Manilas, Butters, Cockles:

    • Minimum size: 1½".
  • Eastern Softshells, Varnish, All Other Marine Clams:

    • No minimum size specified.

Manila Littleneck Clam

  • Scientific Name: Venerupis philippinarum
  • Average Size: 1-2", up to 2½"
  • Shell Description: Oval elongated shell with concentric and radiating lines. Split siphon tips. Found up to 4" below the surface.

(Eastern) Softshell Clam

  • Scientific Name: Mya arenaria
  • Maximum Size: Up to 6"
  • Shell Description: Soft, chalky-white shell with a rough irregular surface. Rounded at the foot end, pointed at the siphon end. Siphon lacks a leather-like flap on the tip. Found up to 18" below the surface. Unable to rebury independently.

Native Littleneck Clam

  • Scientific Name: Leukoma staminea
  • Average Size: 1-2", up to 2½"
  • Shell Description: Rounded shell with concentric and radiating lines. Fused siphon tips. Found 6-10" below the surface.

Varnish Clam

  • Scientific Name: Nuttallia obscurata
  • Maximum Size: Up to 3"
  • Shell Description: Shiny brown coating on the outside, purple on the inside. Found 3-12" below the surface.

Cockle Clam

  • Scientific Name: Clinocardium nuttallii
  • Maximum Size: Up to 5"
  • Shell Description: Prominent, evenly-spaced ridges fanning out from the hinge. Mottled, light brown. Found on or just below the surface.

Horse Clam

  • Scientific Name: Tresus nuttallii (shown), Tresus capax (not shown)
  • Maximum Size: Up to 8"
  • Shell Description: Chalky-white shell with yellow-brown patches. Siphon cannot retract into the shell and has a leather-like flap. Found 1-2 feet below the surface. Unable to rebury independently.

Butter Clam

  • Scientific Name: Saxidomus giganteus
  • Average Size: 3-4", up to 6"
  • Shell Description: Chalky-white or blue-stained shell with no radiating lines. Siphon can retract into the shell. Found 12-18" below the surface. Shell slightly gapes at the siphon. Unable to rebury independently.

Geoduck Clam

  • Scientific Name: Panopea generosa
  • Shell Description: Heavy, oblong shell with one rounded end and a cut-off appearance at the other. Siphon lacks a leather-like flap and cannot retract into the shell. Found 2-3 feet below the surface. Can weigh up to 10 lbs. Unable to rebury independently.

Crab

Refer to Crab Rules for crab harvest information and Statewide Gear Rules for crab gear regulations.

Crayfish (Crawfish)

  • Native Species (Signal Crayfish):

    • Season: 1st Mon. in May-Oct. 31
    • Minimum size: 3¼" from tip of rostrum to tip of tail
    • Daily limit: 10 lbs in shell
    • Additional Rules: Females with eggs or young attached must be released unharmed. No Shellfish/Seaweed license required. See Statewide Gear Rules.
  • Nonnative Species:

    • Season: 1st Mon. in May-Oct. 31
    • Additional Rules: Must be kept in a separate container. Must be dead before removal from riparian area. No daily limit, size, or sex restrictions. No Shellfish/Seaweed license required. See Statewide Gear Rules.

Goose Barnacles

  • Puget Sound Public Beaches:

    • Season: Year-round
    • Daily limit: 10 lbs whole or 5 lbs barnacle stalks
  • Pacific Ocean Beaches (Outside Olympic National Park):

    • Season: Nov. 1-Mar. 31
    • Daily limit: 10 lbs whole or 5 lbs barnacle stalks

Mussels

  • Puget Sound Public Beaches:

    • Blue, California, Mediterranean
    • Season: See Marine Area 12 for season information
    • Daily limit: 10 lbs in shell
  • Pacific Ocean Beaches (Outside Olympic National Park):

    • Blue, California, Mediterranean
    • Season: Nov. 1-Mar. 31
    • Daily limit: 10 lbs in shell

Octopus

  • All Waters except Marine Area 12, Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas, and Octopus Protection Areas:

    • Species: Giant Pacific
    • Season: Year-round
    • Daily limit: 1
    • Additional Rules: No chemicals or irritants allowed
  • Marine Area 12, Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas, and Octopus Protection Areas:

    • All Species
    • Season: CLOSED

Oysters

  • Public Beaches:
    • All Species
    • Season: See Shellfish/Seaweed Regulations for season information
    • Minimum size: 2½" measured across longest distance of shell
    • Daily limit: 18
    • Additional Rules: Must be shucked on the beach. Oysters consumed on the beach count toward the limit. Leave shells on the same tideland and tide height where they were taken.

Relic Shells

  • All Areas:
    • Species: All Species
    • Season: Year-round
    • Daily Limit: 5 pounds of all species combined
    • Additional Rules: Take of oyster shells prohibited. Removal of shells on State Park beaches prohibited. No license required. Refer to Don't Relocate Shells or Shellfish! information on Shellfish Safety Information.

Sand Shrimp

  • Public Beaches:
    • Species: All Species
    • Season: Year-round
    • Daily Limit: 10 dozen
    • Additional Rules: May be harvested only by hand or by hand-operated suction devices. See closures on Marine Preserves, Conservation Areas, and Shellfish Protection Zones.

Scallops

  • All Waters:
    • Pink and Spiny:
      • Season: Year-round
      • Min. Size: 2" measured across longest distance of shell
      • Daily Limit: 40 combined for both species
    • Weathervane:
      • Season: Year-round
      • Min. Size: 4"
      • Daily Limit: 12
    • Rock:
      • Season: Year-round
      • No min. size
      • Daily Limit: 6
      • Additional Rules: Hammers or mallets may not be used to harvest rock scallops.

Sea Cucumbers

  • All Waters except for Marine areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, and 12 detailed below:
    • California:
      • Season: July 1-last day in Feb.
      • Daily Limit: 18
    • Marine Area 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, and 12:
      • All Species: CLOSED

Sea Urchins

  • All Waters except Marine area 12:
    • Green, Purple, Red:
      • Season: Year-round
      • Min. Size: Varies
      • Daily Limit: 18
    • White:
      • Season: Closed
  • Marine Area 12:
    • All Species: CLOSED

Seaweed

  • All Areas:
    • Species: All Species
    • Season: Year-round
    • Daily Limit: 10 lbs wet weight
    • Additional Rules: Illegal to harvest any seaweed if herring eggs are attached. Refer to local regulations for county and city parks. Wash all seaweed before eating.

Shrimp

Refer to Shrimp Rules for shrimp harvest and gear regulations.

Squid

  • All Waters:
    • Market Squid and all other species:
      • Season: Year-round
      • Daily Limit: 5 qts. or 10 lbs.
    • Humboldt Squid:
      • Season: Year-round
      • Daily Limit: 5 squid

Additional Guidelines

  • Biotoxin Status: Before harvesting, always check the local biotoxin status via the biotoxin hotline (1-800-562-5632) or online as biotoxins can pose risks across all clam species.
  • Harvesting Methods: Clams can be dug by hand or using hand-operated tools such as forks, picks, rakes, or shovels. Each harvester must use a separate container, although digging equipment may be shared. It is essential to refill holes created while digging to preserve clam habitat and reduce mortality rates.
  • Freshwater Areas: All species harvesting is closed in freshwater areas.

 

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.