Shellfish Import and Transfer permitting requirements are intended to reduce risk associated with introducing and spreading shellfish disease agents and harmful aquatic pest organisms. As specified in WACs 220-340-050 and 220-340-150 , it is unlawful to import from out of state or transfer shellfish within Washington State without first obtaining a Washington state Shellfish Import or Shellfish Transfer Permit. Once a person submits a complete shellfish import or shellfish transfer permit application, unless further information is required from the applicant, the department will submit transfer and import permit applications to a required 20 working day tribal review, prior to being issued.
Who needs a shellfish import permit: Anyone seeking to import or possess live aquatic invertebrates from outside the state of Washington into the state. This includes but is not limited to aquatic invertebrates (other than insects) intended for aquaculture, research, public or personal display, or education. This also excludes shellfish considered market-ready, intended for immediate human consumption and not intended to be placed into or to come into contact with state waters.
Who needs a shellfish transfer permit: Anyone wishing to transfer shellfish, shellfish aquaculture products (such as seed, cultch, and shell), aquaculture equipment (such as vessels and vehicles) or any marine organisms adversely affecting shellfish, into or contacting state waters. This includes but is not limited to shellfish aquaculture activities like broodstock movement, wet storage, placement of cultch, placement or sale of shellfish seed; and transfer of invertebrates for research, education, monitoring, or display. This excludes shellfish that are market ready, intended for immediate human consumption, and which will not be placed into or come into contact with state waters.
Who needs a marine plant import permit: Anyone seeking to import live kelp, seaweed, or other marine plant aquaculture products destined for contact with state waters (directly or indirectly).
Marine plant transfer: It is unlawful to transfer marine plant aquaculture products between any of the following geographic areas without having first obtained a transfer permit: Columbia River; Pacific Ocean waters; Willapa Harbor; Grays Harbor; Puget Sound. No transfer permit is necessary for transfer within any of the geographic regions described above.
Applications for shellfish import and transfer permits can be found on this page. Applications are available as a Word Document (.doc) and as a PDF. Both of these formats can be filled in using a computer, saved, and e-mailed to the contacts listed below. Documents filled out electronically and sent via e-mail are preferred, but the PDF can also be printed and filled in by hand if need be. If for any reason you have trouble opening either of these forms, please contact us for assistance.
To submit a shellfish transfer or import application or for further information please contact:
360-302-3030 ex 301
360-302-3030 ex 304
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
375 Hudson Street
Port Townsend, WA 98368
The Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA) has in-depth information about most environmental permits in their Regulatory Handbook. WDFW permit processing and issuing times can be found in the handbook and are also posted to ORIA's Permit Timeliness Data repository.
Shellfish import permits
Import permits from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are required for the import of live shellfish from waters or facilities outside the State of Washington. This includes, but is not limited to, shellfish for aquaculture, research or display purposes. Shellfish which are market ready and do not come into contact with state waters do not require a permit. Some organisms or imports from certain source locations may be eligible for import into WDFW-approved quarantine only. Applications for import into quarantine facilities must be accompanied by a facility biosecurity plan, photo documentation of the facility, research plan (if research-related), and a facility site plan (unless these documents are already on file with WDFW).
Import permits will include conditions to ensure that diseases, pests and invasive species do not enter the State’s waters. Permits may be modified or revoked upon a finding of an aquatic disease or pest or upon determination of violation of the conditions of a permit. (RCW 77.15.350)
Application forms and reference materials
- Shellfish import permit application form: PDF | MS Word
- Shellfish Import Advisory Committee
Shellfish transfer permits
Transfer permits from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are required for the transfer of shellfish, shellfish aquaculture products (including oyster seed, cultch and shell), aquaculture equipment (including aquaculture vehicles and vessels) or any marine organisms adversely affecting shellfish. Shellfish Transfer Permits include conditions that eliminate or reduce the risk of transferring marine pests, such as oyster drills and European green crabs, from one body of water to another. Certain areas are identified as oyster drill areas (WAC 220-340-130 and 220-340-140). Transfer permit conditions document transfer vehicles, cleaning and disposal methods and other preventative measures.
Application forms and reference materials
- Washington state oyster drill restricted area locations
- Washington state oyster drill restricted areas maps
- WDFW Transfer Permit Supplemental Information and Guide
Click "More information" below for information on European green crabs, Japanese oyster drills, and more.
European green crab and oyster drills
- WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species Unit -- European green crab
- Washington SeaGrant Crab Team
- European green crab identification, Washington SeaGrant
- European green crab identification, Washington Invasive Species Council
Shellfish disease information
WDFW shellfish disease control advisory
The importation and transfer of kelp and other marine plants is regulated under:
- "Marine plant" definition: WAC 220-370-050
- WAC 220-370-220 (Marine plant aquaculture disease control)
- WAC 220-370-230 (Kelp importation—Permit required—Disease control)
The importation of marine plants requires an Import Permit. For the import of marine plants, please complete and submit a Shellfish Import Permit application.
There are some restrictions on the transfer of marine plants within the state. It is unlawful to transfer marine plant aquaculture products between any of the following geographic areas without having first obtained a transfer permit: Columbia River; Pacific Ocean waters; Willapa Harbor; Grays Harbor; Puget Sound. No transfer permit is necessary for transfer within any of the geographic regions described above. If a permit is required for the transfer of marine plants, please complete and submit a Shellfish Transfer Permit application.