Pollution Threatens 17 Washington Shellfish Areas
The Washington State Department of Health yesterday warned that pollution threatens shellfish harvesting in 17 of the state's commercial shellfish growing areas.
"Washington is a national shellfish leader, and while shellfish are vital to our state economy the growing areas also serve as a barometer of the health of our Puget Sound and coastal waters," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky in a press release. "We're seeing progress, but big challenges remain as we work to restore a healthy environment to the waters of the coast and around the Sound."
The department's annual list concerning the state's 97 commercial shellfish growing areas showed 15 threatened areas last year; in 2005, there were 25 areas facing threats from fecal pollution. Officials said the number has been dropping gradually.
Pollution in four areas is severe enough to close or limit harvests this year.
Bob Woolrich, growing area manager for the health department, said the list helps the state target its cleanup efforts.
"Early action can make a big difference in restoring water quality and avoiding more costly and complicated pollution problems down the road," he said.