2005 in ReviewDraytonHarbor Shellfish District

Published on Thu, Jan 19, 2006 by Geoff Menzies

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2005 in Review
Drayton Harbor Shellfish District

By Geoff Menzies

The Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Citizens Advisory Committee has just wound up its 10th year working to clean up Drayton Harbor. It has been another successful year for this volunteer committee.
We were able to secure some Whatcom County funding for 2005 and 2006 to provide staff support and some high priority water quality monitoring and pollution control projects.

These projects focus on intensive water quality monitoring in the California Creek drainage, wet weather sampling in Drayton Harbor, development of a volunteer stormwater sampling program for both Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor watersheds, and expanded community outreach in the Drayton Harbor watershed. Look for another shellfish district open house and Oyster Feed coming this spring. The committee has also participated with the Whatcom County health department in its efforts to develop an operations and maintenance program for septic systems both in the watershed and county-wide. Our watershed among others will likely receive initial focus for septic system inventories, inspection, and prompt repairs where needed.

The Puget Sound restoration fund’s community oyster farm project is plugging along as well. In spite of 28 rain closures last harvest season and seven already this season, these volunteer farmers of the tideflats have harvested over 2,000 bushel baskets of oysters. This crop has yielded more than 6,000 dozen single oysters with a market value approaching $40,000. Most of these oysters were shipped to China, but many were sold in Blaine on the dock.

The restoration fund and the volunteers in the community oyster farm remain committed to fully restoring water quality in Drayton Harbor. The farmers of the tideflats planted another acre of bottom culture oyster seed in Drayton Harbor this past summer. This project also purchased several thousand single oysters this summer from the Lummi shellfish hatchery. These are being grown using a new off-bottom technique. We have been selling these yearling oysters on the dock in Blaine and to Vis Seafood in Bellingham and the Willows Inn on Lummi Island. Everyone’s raving about them.

The next two years will be critical for Drayton Harbor water quality and the complete restoration of shellfish harvesting opportunities. If we continue to nurture the community partnerships that have developed in the past few years, we should see the bay once again approved for year-round shellfish harvest as it was 10 years ago.