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Human Health | Economic | Tribes

HABs pose threats to human health, are a consistent threat to the commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries of Washington state, and are important to the livelihood and culture of Native Americans living on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.

Human health:

The human illness known as amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP) is caused by eating fish, shellfish or crab containing the toxin. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 24 hours of ingestion. In more severe cases, neurological symptoms develop within 48 hours and include headache, dizziness, confusion, disorientation, loss of short-term memory, motor weakness, seizures, profuse respiratory secretions, cardiac arrhythmia, coma and possibly death. There is no antidote for domoic acid.


Economic Impact of HABs:

Restaurant sign advertising razor clamsWashington's Olympic coast is isolated and extremely rural. Most residents, especially tribes, depend on natural resources for income and subsistence. HABs are a consistent threat to the commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries of Washington state. The Pacific razor clam and Dungeness crab fisheries are adversely affected by sudden increases of domoic acid, a naturally occurring marine toxin. Washington State is one of the most important regions for shellfish aquaculture and beach harvest in the U.S. with an approximate annual commercial value near $100 million. Fisheries are the largest employer in Washington coastal communities.

The razor clam fishery is largely a recreational fishery in Washington State. The fishery generates on average about 250,000 digger trips to the southwest Washington counties which represents about a $12 million influx of tourist/fisher spending (e.g., motels, food, gasoline, souvenirs, etc). The small commercial razor clam fishery can represent about $1 million in revenue for the tribes in a year with abundant clams. The non-tribal commerrcial operation in Willapa Bay produces razor clams for crab bait.


Tribes:

Shellfish, fish and crabs are important to the livelihood and culture of Native Americans living on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Two federally-recognized Indian tribes, the Makah and the Quinault are participants in ORHAB. Maintaining vigorous fishing activities (including shellfishing and crabbing) that has sustained their ancestors for centuries helps them preserve their self-sufficiency and cultural autonomy.

The Quinault reservation is a large wedge of the Pacific coast west of Lake Quinault. In the Quinault language, the words ta'aWshi xa'iits'os mean "clam hungry", indicating the traditional dependence of this tribe on razor clams as a subsistence food. In addition to subsistence gathering, the Quinault tribe has a seafood processing plant where razor clams are canned. The tribe is allotted 50% of the razor clam harvest on their Usual and Accustomed (U&A) land, therefore commercially harvested clams supplement the income of tribal members.

The Makah tribe (Kwi-dai-da"chi or "the people who live near the Rocks and the Seagulls") live on the northwestern tip of the continental U.S., on Cape Flattery at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Makah have relied on the sea for centuries. To this day, this tribe is dependent on shellfish (mussels, clams, scallops) for subsistence and is exploring shellfish aquaculture (mussels and scallops) as a source of income.

Other coastal tribes, including the Hoh and Shoalwater, will benefit from ORHAB, resulting in greater self-sufficiency and reliance on natural resources.

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Human Health | Economic | Tribes

 

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