OLYMPIA -- Recent agreements with treaty tribes have prompted several emergency changes to non-Indian recreational shellfish harvesting regulations for public beaches, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.
As of tomorrow morning, the following changes are in effect:
Manila, native littleneck, cockle and butter clams must measure at least 1 ½ inches across the longest dimension of the shell.
All eastern softshell and horse clams and geoducks harvested must be kept as part of the daily limit. It is unlawful to return any of the clams to the beach or water regardless of size or condition. Daily bag limits are three geoducks and seven horse clams. Sports harvesters may take 40 eastern softshell and other species, including littlenecks, Manilas, butters, cockles, macomas and all other native marine clams or 10 pounds of the combined species in the shell, whichever comes first.
Oysters and scallops may be harvested only by hand or with a manually-operated prying tool. It is unlawful to use hammers or rocks or other crushing implements to take oysters or scallops.
The emergency regulations were enacted to meet the terms of a recent agreement with treaty tribes and to help conserve shellfish resources. Tribes signing the agreement also have agreed to abide by the same conservation measures.
A recent federal court decision last year ruled treaty tribes are entitled to up to 50 percent of harvestable shellfish under some conditions.
Sports shellfish harvesters should check the 1996-97 Sports Fishing Rules pamphlet for additional regulations.