Pacific oyster (Magallana gigas / Crassostrea gigas)

Pacific oysters on a Hood Canal beach.
Pacific oysters on a Hood Canal beach. Accepted alternative taxonomic name: Crassostrea gigas
Category: Molluscs
Ecosystems: Marine shorelines

Caution: Always check the local biotoxin status before harvesting via the biotoxin hotline (1-800-562-5632) or www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety.

Description and Range

Physical description

Pacific oysters are oblong shaped with an irregular, wavy shell edge. They are chalky white or grey in color and are up to 12 inches long.

Geographic range

Pacific oysters can be found from Prince William Sound, AK south to Newport Bay, CA.

Regulations

Licenses and permits

Anyone harvesting oysters in Washington must have a valid license that includes shellfish harvest. See the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for more information, or visit a license dealer.

Rules and seasons

Minimum size 2-1/2 inches measured across the longest distance of the shell. 
Daily limit 18 oysters. Oysters consumed on the beach count toward a limit.
Oysters must be shucked on the beach. Leave shells on the same tideland and at the same tide height as where they were taken. 
Oysters may only be harvested by hand or with hand-held manually operated prying tool (no hammers, etc.). Each harvester must use a separate container to retain their catch. 

Recreational oyster seasons are beach-specific and may change annually. Check this year’s seasons here: Public clam, mussel, and oyster beaches. Always check the DOH biotoxin status before harvesting.

Conservation

This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.