PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police destroyed 1,400 pounds of clams that were harvested in an area of Pierce County that was not certified for commercial harvest.
The officer responded to a report that two people were commercially harvesting clams in Lakebay, an area known to the officer to be in a Department of Health commercial closure zone where no clams are allowed to be harvested for commercial sale.
The officer arrived to find two people who had 21 commercial-size bags on clams on the beach as they continued to harvest clams.
They were asked for licenses, beach certifications and certification tags that were to be placed with the clams as they left the beach.
Though the men had a commercial license, they did not have the other required documents and a language barrier caused communication difficulties. The officer was able to determine that the owner of the beach had hired an oyster company from Shelton to harvest the clams from the location.
The men on the beach were hired to harvest the clams by that oyster company. Wildlife officials spoke with the owner of the oyster company who initially tried to distance himself from the harvest on the closed beach by saying that the men were not supposed to be there and were instead supposed to be at some other beach near Belfair, according to WDFW.
More than 1,000 pounds of clams were seized and destroyed by the officer.
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Two other officers contacted the owner the next day. WDFW said the owner of the oyster company and the landowner had a deal to have the beach harvested and that the owner knew that the beach was not properly certified.
The officers seized almost 400 more pounds of clams that were being held on a storage beach in Shelton that were harvested from the same beach the day before the first officer approached the two men.
WDFW said interviews will be held in the near future to determine what charges will be forwarded to the prosecutor.
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