Whatcom County MRC Projects - Shellfish Projects
Shellfish - those both recreationally and commercially harvested - are key marine resources for Whatcom County. The Whatcom County MRC is approaching the NWSC shellfish benchmark, “Net reduction in shellfish bed closures”, through actions both in closed and threatened shellfish areas.
The Whatcom County MRC partnered with the Port of Bellingham, Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Advisory Committee and the City of Blaine to implement a pilot project in the Blaine Harbor marina. The commercial portion of the marina has been identified as a hot spot for fecal coliform bacteria. The pilot project focused on reducing the amount of fecal coliform bacteria entering the marine waters from birds and mammals congregating in this area. Two techniques were employed through this project: stormwater planters to filter rooftop runoff and ‘spiders’ to deter birds from roosting on a section of the breakwater. (More Project Details)
The Whatcom MRC and Whatcom County Public Works - Natural Resources have been coordinating water quality monitoring in key drainages since 2004. The areas monitored include Chuckanut Bay, Birch Bay, and Drayton Harbor. Each of these areas has suffered from trends in water quality degradation, resulting in shellfish growing areas with threatened, conditionally approved, or prohibited status.
Fecal coliform samples and flow measurements are taken at 25 sites on a monthly basis. This information can help identify and prioritize drainage areas for community outreach and potential water quality improvement projects. (More Project Details)
The reward for clean water is a safe and healthy shellfish harvest!
In many Whatcom County shoreline areas, native clams may serve as indicator species and help us gain an understanding of the health of the shellfish resource, marine water quality, and impacts of harvesting techniques. In the summer of 2004, the MRC coordinated clam surveys using volunteers in Birch Bay (threatened area), Semiahmoo Spit (closed and conditionally restricted areas), and Chuckanut Bay (closed area). In 2005, surveys focused on Marine Park in Bellingham, Cherry Point/Point Whitehorn, and Birch Point. In 2006, the MRC and volunteers surveyed Marine Park in Blaine, Lummi Island, and Point Roberts, completing clam surveys along the majority of Whatcom County shorelines. The summer of 2008 marked the second round of clam surveys, with surveys completed once again on Semiahmoo Spit, Birch Bay, and Chuckanut Bay. The information gathered through these surveys is shared with community members and is used to describe how shellfish areas can be protected for generations to come. In addition, these data will be used to help identify potential clam enhancement and restoration sites. (More Project Details)
Birch Bay is the largest recreational shellfish harvesting area in Whatcom County. Anecdotal evidence suggests that native clam populations in some areas of Birch Bay are declining. The MRC worked with a consultant to conduct a feasibility study evaluating opportunities for native clam enhancement and/or restoration sites in Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor. Using the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm as a template, the MRC is currently in the midst of a manila clam seeding pilot project to determine appropriate methods for future clam enhancement seedings.