Birch Bay is popular with recreational clam and oyster harvesters. In order to harvest clams or oysters you will need a shellfish/seaweed license. A shellfish/seaweed license is required for anyone 15 years of age or older to harvest clams and oysters. Consult the current Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet or visit the Licensing web site for more information. You can purchase your state authorized shellfish license in Birch Bay from:
Bay Center Market
8050 Harborview Road
Birch Bay, WA 98230
PH: (360) 371-7233
Open 7 Days a Week
Know Before You Dig and Red Tide Alerts
Before heading out to the beach to dig for clams, oysters, or crabs, it is recommended that you check the status of Red Tide in the bay. Eating shellfish contaminated with marine bio toxin can kill you, and are NOT destroyed by cooking or by freezing. You can also call the Marine Bio toxin line at 1-800-562-5632 for more information.
Shellfish Resourceful Links:
Beach Closure List for NW Washington Beaches
Whatcom County (Birch Bay Beaches) Bio toxin Beach Closure Map
The bay is perfect for digging native littleneck clams and Manila clams in the sandy gravel of the upper inter tidal and you will find butter clams, cockles and horse clams on lower tides.
Harvest rules for clams, oysters & other species on tidelands OTHER than state park beaches.
Harvest rules for clams, oysters & other species at Birch Bay State Park.
The harvest or removal of unclassified marine invertebrates (UMI) is not allowed on State Park beaches. UMI includes moon snails, shore crabs, sea slugs (nudibranchs), starfish (sea stars), graceful crabs, sand dollars, etc.
Size Limits on Clams
The legal minimum size for Manila clams, native littleneck clams, butter clams and cockles on public beaches is 1.5 inches. There is no minimum size for any other species of clam (this includes geoducks, horse clams, varnish clams, and soft shell clams) nor is there any minimum size for mussels.
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All oysters taken by sport harvesters on public tidelands must be shucked (opened) on the beach, and the shells left on the same tideland and tide height where they were taken.
To shuck oysters, it is recommend to use a good-quality oyster knife (one with a sturdy blade that won't bend easily) and a pair of garden-type gloves to protect your hands from cuts and abrasions. Do not use screwdrivers or household knives. Remember not to allow young children shuck oysters, it's just too easy for them to cut themselves. Adults with a valid Shellfish License may shuck a child's daily limit of oysters, so long as the child participates in some way in the gathering of his or her limit.
Shucking Oysters - Side Entry Method
Shucking Oysters - Hinge Entry Method
Size Limits on Oysters
The vast majority of oysters on public beaches are Pacific oysters which were introduced from Japan. The legal minimum size for oysters on all tidelands is 2.5 inches.
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Crabbing is one of Puget Sound’s most popular recreational fisheries. Birch Bay is a popular spot for catching Dungeness crab, using pots, ring nets and – in the case of wade and dive fishers – their bare hands. You will need a license to do any crabbing. In addition to meeting licensing requirements, everyone who fishes for crab in Puget Sound must carry and complete catch record cards to account for all Dungeness crab they catch. Department of Shellfish Hotline: 1-800-562-5632.
Season Openings for Crabbing
Please check the following web link for what crabbing zones are open and closed:
Size Limits on Crabs
Dungeness crab, is one of the most popular items on Washington seafood menus.
Minimum size for harvesting is 6.25" wide, and limit is 5 males only.
Red Rock crab, is one of the most popular items on Washington seafood menus.
Minimum size for harvesting is 5 " wide, and limit is 6 crab (male of female).