Shellfish Growers Gearing Up to Clean the Sound in 25th Beach Cleanup

beach cleanup
Shellfish farmers will gather on March 23 to collect garbage and debris from Puget Sound beaches. Photo courtesy: Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

Submitted by Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association

On Thursday, March 23, the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) hosts a local tradition since 2001, the bi-annual Shellfish Industry Beach Cleanup. Local shellfish growers and the Department of Natural Resources will collectively remove marine debris washed up along 120 miles of Puget Sound beaches. Sites include Eld, Totten, Henderson, Hammersley, Case, and Carr Inlets, Oakland Bay, and Squaxin, Harstine, McNeil, and Anderson Islands.

beach cleanup
The PCSGA states that 80% of the debris collected is from recreational users. Photo courtesy: Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

PCSGA’s primary goals are to remove marine debris and to reduce the amount of shellfish gear escaping into waterways. These beach cleanups yield on average 80% residential marine debris which has nothing to do with shellfish farming. That debris includes chunks of Styrofoam that broke loose from homeowners’ docks and floats, tires, drainage pipe, and patio furniture.

Of the total debris collected, the 20% which on average is aquaculture gear is sorted and spatially analyzed. This allows PCSGA to help shellfish growers identify what gear is escaping from farms during storm events, and where that debris is landing. Aquaculture gear from the shellfish industry typically comprises a small amount of the debris collected, much of which is sent back to farms to be recycled or reused. Environmental stewardship is a core value of PCSGA and the shellfish growers as this industry relies on a healthy marine ecosystem. Water quality and delicious oysters are closely connected. The beach cleanup reflects our values as environmental stewards.

beach cleanup
The Arcadia Boat Launch in Shelton is one of the collection points for the beach cleanup. Photo courtesy: Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

Marine debris is collected primarily by boat and is brought to either of the two beach cleanup headquarters at National Fish and Oyster Co. in Nisqually, and the Arcadia Boat Launch in Shelton. Shoreline residents and the public should be aware that rain or shine, these crews will be along the beach with the goal of removing debris. Contact PCSGA at 360-754-2744 if you know of an area that needs attention or if you do not want people accessing your beach.

Support for this event and other local beach cleanups comes from funds raised through SLURP (Shellfish Lovers Ultimate Rejuvenation Party) – PCSGA’s annual community festival of shellfish, beer and wine. Save the date; it’s on April 23 this year in Olympia.  Tickets to SLURP can be purchased here.

To learn more about the beach cleanup, click here.

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