Oyster harvesting near Seattle, WA

Harvesting tips and spots 🦪

Oyster beach

Nothing like freshly harvested oysters over an open campfire.

Photo by Rachel Claire

Table of Contents

Living near a salt water coast, many native Seattleites are probably familiar with the “r” oyster rule.

The 4,000-year-old rule of thumb suggests that you should avoid eating oysters in months that don’t have an “r” in its name (May-August) to avoid flavorless or potentially sickening shellfish. It was more of a thing before refrigeration and strict food guidelines were in place for commercial harvesters, but oysters certainly get tastier as they mature after summer spawning.

So, we have some tips if you’re shucking on your own.

Food safety + harvesting seasons

There are essentially two government bodies that you’ll want to pay the biggest attention to — the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington Department of Health (WDH).

The former has guidance on when oyster digging is safe (meaning no bacteria in the water, etc.), while the latter says when it’s legal (you won’t hurt the environment or get in the way of commercial fishers). Both entities need to say it’s cool before you go.

You can check beach harvest-ability status using this map and each location’s official website for more safety info.

Spots for harvesting

Check the tides and your safety map before you go.

  • Hahobas | Near Dewatto | | Open for shellfish harvesting year-round | Accessible by boat only, but its a good beach if you don’t want to dig. Most oysters are perched in clusters on the rocks.
  • Tolmie State Park | 7730 61st Ave. NE, Olympia | Open for shellfish harvesting year-round | This spot may not have tons of clams, but it’s got good oyster digs, plus two electric kitchen shelters.
  • West Penn Cove + Twin Lagoons | Whidbey Island | Open for shellfish harvesting year-round | Dig around the 4,376 feet of shoreline.

Other resources

Don’t forget to keep these websites saved on your phone for help.

Let someone else do the work

Trust the experts + check out these businesses for fresh bivalves.

  • Taylor Shellfish | This farm has three oyster bars spread throughout Seattle + a pretty informative blog.
  • Westward | Slurp to your heart’s content at the restaurant’s waterfront campfires.
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