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Chapter 77.60 RCW Shellfish

Chapter 77.60 RCW


State oyster reserves established.
The following areas are the state oyster reserves and are more completely described in maps and plats on file in the office of the commissioner of public lands and in the office of the auditor of the county in which the reserve is located:


(a) Totten Inlet reserves (sometimes known as Oyster Bay reserves), located in Totten Inlet, Thurston county;

(b) Eld Inlet reserves (sometimes known as Mud Bay reserves), located in Mud Bay, Thurston county;

(c) Oakland Bay reserves, located in Oakland Bay, Mason county;

(d) North Bay reserves (sometimes known as Case Inlet reserves), located in Case Inlet, Mason county.


(a) Nemah reserve, south and west sides of reserve located along Nemah River channel, Pacific county;

(b) Long Island reserve, located at south end and along west side of Long Island, Willapa Harbor, Pacific county;

(c) Long Island Slough reserve, located at south end and along east side of Long Island, Willapa Harbor, Pacific county;

(d) Bay Center reserve, located in the Palix River channel, extending from Palix River bridge to beyond Bay Center to north of Goose Point, Willapa Harbor, Pacific county;

(e) Willapa River reserve, located in the Willapa River channel extending west and up-river from a point approximately one-quarter mile from the blinker light marking the division of Willapa River channel and the North River channel, Willapa Harbor, Pacific county.

[1983 1st ex.s. c 46 78; 1955 c 12 75.24.010. Prior: 1949 c 112 54; Rem. Supp. 1949 5780-01. Formerly RCW 75.24.010.]


Sale or lease of state oyster reserves.
Only upon recommendation of the commission may the state oyster reserves be sold, leased, or otherwise disposed of by the department of natural resources.

[1995 1st sp.s. c 2 28 (Referendum Bill No. 45, approved November 7, 1995); 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 79; 1955 c 12 75.24.030. Prior: 1949 c 112 55; Rem. Supp. 1949 5780-402. Formerly RCW 75.24.030.]

Notes: Referral to electorate -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 77.04.013.

Effective date -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 43.17.020.


State oyster reserves management policy Personal use harvesting Inventory Management categories Cultch permits.
It is the policy of the state to improve state oyster reserves so that they are productive and yield a revenue sufficient for their maintenance. In fixing the price of oysters and other shellfish sold from the reserves, the director shall take into consideration this policy. It is also the policy of the state to maintain the oyster reserves to furnish shellfish to growers and processors and to stock public beaches.

Shellfish may be harvested from state oyster reserves for personal use as prescribed by rule of the director.

The director shall periodically inventory the state oyster reserves and assign the reserve lands into management categories:

(1) Native Olympia oyster broodstock reserves;

(2) Commercial shellfish harvesting zones;

(3) Commercial shellfish propagation zones designated for long-term leasing to private aquaculturists;

(4) Public recreational shellfish harvesting zones;

(5) Unproductive land.

The director shall manage each category of oyster reserve land to maximize the sustained yield production of shellfish consistent with the purpose for establishment of each management category.

The commission shall develop an oyster reserve management plan, to include recommendations for leasing reserve lands, in coordination with the shellfish industry, by January 1, 1986.

The director shall protect, reseed, improve the habitat of, and replant state oyster reserves. The director shall also issue cultch permits and oyster reserve fishery licenses.

[2000 c 107 22; 1998 c 245 152; 1985 c 256 1; 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 81; 1969 ex.s. c 91 1; 1955 c 12 75.24.060. Prior: 1949 c 112 56; Rem. Supp. 1949 5780-403. Formerly RCW 75.24.060.]


Olympia oysters Cultivation on reserves in Puget Sound.
The legislature finds that current environmental and economic conditions warrant a renewal of the state's historical practice of actively cultivating and managing its oyster reserves in Puget Sound to produce the state's native oyster, the Olympia oyster. The director shall reestablish dike cultivated production of Olympia oysters on such reserves on a trial basis as a tool for planning more comprehensive cultivation by the state.

[2000 c 107 23; 1993 sp.s. c 2 40; 1985 c 256 2. Formerly RCW 75.24.065.]

Notes: Effective date -- 1993 sp.s. c 2 1-6, 8-59, and 61-79: See RCW 43.300.900.

Severability -- 1993 sp.s. c 2: See RCW 43.300.901.


Sale of shellfish from state oyster reserves.
The director shall determine the time, place, and method of sale of oysters and other shellfish from state oyster reserves. Any person who commercially takes shellfish from state oyster reserves must possess an oyster reserve fishery license issued by the director pursuant to RCW 77.65.260. Any person engaged in the commercial cultching of oysters on state oyster reserves must possess an oyster cultch permit issued by the director pursuant to RCW 77.65.270.

To maintain local communities and industries and to restrain the formation of monopolies in the industry, the director shall determine the number of bushels which shall be sold to a person. When the shellfish are sold at public auction, the director may reject any and all bids.

[2000 c 107 24; 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 82; 1955 c 12 75.24.070. Prior: 1949 c 112 57; Rem. Supp. 1949 5780-404. Formerly RCW 75.24.070.]

Notes:Oyster reserve fishery license: RCW 77.65.260.


Restricted shellfish areas Infestations Permit.
The director may designate as "restricted shellfish areas" those areas in which infection or infestation of shellfish is present. A permit issued by the director is required to transplant or transport into or out of a restricted area shellfish or equipment used in culturing, taking, handling, or processing shellfish.

[1998 c 190 90; 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 83; 1955 c 12 75.24.080. Prior: 1949 c 112 59; Rem. Supp. 1949 5780-406. Formerly RCW 75.24.080.]


Geoduck clams, commercial harvesting Unauthorized acts Gear requirements.
(1) The director may not authorize a person to take geoduck clams for commercial purposes outside the harvest area designated in a current department of natural resources geoduck harvesting agreement issued under *RCW 79.96.080. The director may not authorize commercial harvest of geoduck clams from bottoms that are shallower than eighteen feet below mean lower low water (0.0. ft.), or that lie in an area bounded by the line of ordinary high tide (mean high tide) and a line two hundred yards seaward from and parallel to the line of ordinary high tide. This section does not apply to the harvest of private sector cultured aquatic products as defined in RCW 15.85.020.

(2) Commercial geoduck harvesting shall be done with a hand-held, manually operated water jet or suction device guided and controlled from under water by a diver. Periodically, the director shall determine the effect of each type or unit of gear upon the geoduck population or the substrate they inhabit. The director may require modification of the gear or stop its use if it is being operated in a wasteful or destructive manner or if its operation may cause permanent damage to the bottom or adjacent shellfish populations.

[2000 c 107 25; 1998 c 190 91; 1995 1st sp.s. c 2 29 (Referendum Bill No. 45, approved November 7, 1995); 1993 c 340 51; 1984 c 80 2. Prior: 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 85; 1983 c 3 193; 1979 ex.s. c 141 1; 1969 ex.s. c 253 1. Formerly RCW 75.24.100.]

Notes: *Reviser's note: RCW 79.96.080 was recodified as RCW 79.135.210 pursuant to 2005 c 155 1010.

Referral to electorate -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 77.04.013.

Effective date -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 43.17.020.

Finding, intent -- Captions not law -- Effective date -- Severability -- 1993 c 340: See notes following RCW 77.65.010.

Liberal construction -- 1969 ex.s. c 253: "The provisions of this act shall be liberally construed." [1969 ex.s. c 253 5.]

Severability -- 1969 ex.s. c 253: "If any provisions of this 1969 amendatory act, or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act, or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [1969 ex.s. c 253 6.]

Designation of aquatic lands for geoduck harvesting: RCW 79.135.220.

Diver license for harvesting geoducks: RCW 77.65.410.


Imported oyster seed Permit and inspection required.
The department may not authorize a person to import oysters or oyster seed into this state for the purpose of planting them in state waters without a permit from the director. The director shall issue a permit only after an adequate inspection has been made and the oysters or oyster seed are found to be free of disease, pests, and other substances which might endanger oysters in state waters.

[1998 c 190 92; 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 87; 1955 c 12 75.08.054. Prior: 1951 c 271 42. Formerly RCW 75.24.110, 75.08.054.]


Imported oyster seed Inspection Costs.
The director may require imported oyster seed to be inspected for diseases and pests. The director may specify the place of inspection. Persons importing oyster seed shall pay for the inspection costs excluding the inspector's salary. The cost shall be determined by the director and prorated among the importers according to the number of cases of oyster seeds each imports. The director shall specify the time and manner of payment.

[1983 1st ex.s. c 46 88; 1967 ex.s. c 38 1; 1955 c 12 75.08.056. Prior: 1951 c 271 43. Formerly RCW 75.24.120, 75.08.056.]


Establishment of reserves on state shellfish lands.
The commission may examine the clam, mussel, and oyster beds located on aquatic lands belonging to the state and request the commissioner of public lands to withdraw these lands from sale and lease for the purpose of establishing reserves or public beaches. The director shall conserve, protect, and develop these reserves and the oyster, shrimp, clam, and mussel beds on state lands.

[2000 c 107 26; 1995 1st sp.s. c 2 30 (Referendum Bill No. 45, approved November 7, 1995); 1983 1st ex.s. c 46 89; 1955 c 12 75.08.060. Prior: 1949 c 112 7(5); Rem. Supp. 1949 5780-206(5). Formerly RCW 75.24.130, 75.08.060.]

Notes: Referral to electorate -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 77.04.013.

Effective date -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 43.17.020.


Zebra mussels and European green crabs Draft rules Prevention of introduction and dispersal.
To complement programs authorized by the federal aquatic nuisance species task force, the department of fish and wildlife is directed to develop draft rules for legislative consideration to prevent the introduction and dispersal of zebra mussels and European green crabs and to allow eradication of infestations that may occur. The department is authorized to display and distribute material and literature informing boaters and owners of airplanes that land on water of the problem and to publicize and maintain a telephone number available to the public to express concerns and report infestations.

[1998 c 153 2. Formerly RCW 75.24.140.]

Notes: Intent -- 1998 c 153: "The unauthorized introduction of the zebra mussel and the European green crab into Washington state waters would pose a serious economic and environmental threat. The zebra mussel and European green crab have adverse impacts on fisheries, waterways, public and private facilities, and the functioning of natural ecosystems. The threat of zebra mussels and European green crabs requires a coordinated response. It is the intent of the legislature to prevent adverse economic and environmental impacts caused by zebra mussels and European green crabs in cooperation and coordination with local governments, the public, other states, and federal agencies." [1998 c 153 1.]

Effective date -- 1998 c 153: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [March 25, 1998]." [1998 c 153 6.]


Infested waters List published.
The department of fish and wildlife shall prepare, maintain, and publish a list of all lakes, ponds, or other waters of the state and other states infested with zebra mussels or European green crabs. The department may participate in regional or national groups addressing these species.

[1998 c 153 3. Formerly RCW 75.24.150.]

Notes: Intent -- Effective date -- 1998 c 153: See notes following RCW 77.60.110.


Aquatic nuisance species committee.
(1) The aquatic nuisance species committee is created for the purpose of fostering state, federal, tribal, and private cooperation on aquatic nuisance species issues. The mission of the committee is to minimize the unauthorized or accidental introduction of nonnative aquatic species and give special emphasis to preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species. The term "aquatic nuisance species" means a nonnative aquatic plant or animal species that threatens the diversity or abundance of native species, the ecological stability of infested waters, or commercial, agricultural, or recreational activities dependent on such waters.

(2) The committee consists of representatives from each of the following state agencies: Department of fish and wildlife, department of ecology, department of agriculture, department of health, department of natural resources, Puget Sound water quality action team, state patrol, state noxious weed control board, and Washington sea grant program. The committee shall encourage and solicit participation by: Federally recognized tribes of Washington, federal agencies, Washington conservation organizations, environmental groups, and representatives from industries that may either be affected by the introduction of an aquatic nuisance species or that may serve as a pathway for their introduction.

(3) The committee has the following duties:

(a) Periodically revise the state of Washington aquatic nuisance species management plan, originally published in June 1998;

(b) Make recommendations to the legislature on statutory provisions for classifying and regulating aquatic nuisance species;

(c) Recommend to the state noxious weed control board that a plant be classified under the process designated by RCW 17.10.080 as an aquatic noxious weed;

(d) Coordinate education, research, regulatory authorities, monitoring and control programs, and participate in regional and national efforts regarding aquatic nuisance species;

(e) Consult with representatives from industries and other activities that may serve as a pathway for the introduction of aquatic nuisance species to develop practical strategies that will minimize the risk of new introductions; and

(f) Prepare a biennial report to the legislature with the first report due by December 1, 2001, making recommendations for better accomplishing the purposes of this chapter, and listing the accomplishments of this chapter to date.

(4) The committee shall accomplish its duties through the authority and cooperation of its member agencies. Implementation of all plans and programs developed by the committee shall be through the member agencies and other cooperating organizations.

[2000 c 149 1.]


Oyster reserve land Pilot project Advisory committee Report Lease administration.
(1) The department shall initiate a pilot project to evaluate the feasibility and potential of intensively culturing shellfish on currently nonproductive oyster reserve land in Puget Sound. The pilot program shall include no fewer than three long-term lease agreements with commercial shellfish growers. Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, revenues from the lease of such lands shall be deposited in the oyster reserve land account created in RCW 77.60.160.

(2) The department shall form one advisory committee each for the Willapa Bay oyster reserve lands and the Puget Sound oyster reserve lands. The advisory committees shall make recommendations on management practices to conserve, protect, and develop oyster reserve lands. The advisory committees may make recommendations regarding the management practices on oyster reserve lands, in particular to ensure that they are managed in a manner that will: (a) Increase revenue through production of high-value shellfish; (b) not be detrimental to the market for shellfish grown on nonreserve lands; and (c) avoid negative impacts to existing shellfish populations. The advisory committees may also make recommendation on the distribution of funds in RCW 77.60.160(2)(a). The department shall attempt to structure each advisory committee to include equal representation between shellfish growers that participate in reserve sales and shellfish growers that do not.

(3) The department shall submit a brief progress report on the status of the pilot programs to the appropriate standing committees of the legislature by January 7, 2003.

(4) The department of natural resources, in consultation with the department of fish and wildlife, shall administer the leases for oyster reserves entered into under this chapter. In administering the leases, the department of natural resources shall exercise its authority under *RCW 79.96.090. Vacation of state oyster reserves by the department of fish and wildlife shall not be a requirement for the department of natural resources to lease any oyster reserves under this section. The department of natural resources may recover reasonable costs directly associated with the administration of the leases for oyster reserves entered into under this chapter. All administrative fees collected by the department of natural resources pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the resource management cost account established in RCW 79.64.020. The department of fish and wildlife may not assess charges to recover the costs of consulting with the department of natural resources under this subsection.

(5) The Puget Sound pilot program shall not include the culture of geoduck.

[2001 c 273 1.]

Notes: *Reviser's note: RCW 79.96.090 was recodified as RCW 79.135.300 pursuant to 2005 c 155 1010.


Oyster reserve land account.
(1) The oyster reserve land account is created in the state treasury. All receipts from revenues from the lease of land or sale of shellfish from oyster reserve lands must be deposited into the account. Moneys in the account may be spent only after appropriation. Expenditures from the account may be used only as provided in this section.

(2) Funds in the account shall be used for the purposes provided for in this subsection:

(a) Up to forty percent for the management expenses incurred by the department that are directly attributable to the management of the oyster reserve lands and for the expenses associated with new research and development activities at the Pt. Whitney and Nahcotta shellfish laboratories managed by the department. As used in this subsection, "new research and development activities" includes an emphasis on the control of aquatic nuisance species and burrowing shrimp;

(b) Up to ten percent may be deposited into the state general fund; and

(c) All remaining funds in the account shall be used for the shellfish - on-site sewage grant program established in RCW 90.71.100.

[2001 c 273 2.]