Sponsored by the city of Stanwood, the Stillaguamish Clean Water District and Sound Salmon Solutions, the event is designed to help people find out what they can do to keep Port Susan and Skagit Bay clean enough for the growth of tideland shellfish beds.
"We have a great resource in the bays," said Stanwood city administrator Deborah Knight. "We want to see that benefit our area."
Mark Indrebo, program manager for Sound Salmon Solutions, agreed.
"We have an aquaculture seafood company, Trans Ocean Seafoods, that is already harvesting millions of pounds of shellfish and shipping clams from south Skagit Bay to the East Coast," Indrebo said. "If we don't protect the Stillaguamish basin, we won't eat from it and we won't support those businesses."
According to Snohomish County officials, most of the northern half of the Port Susan had been closed for two decades to commercial shellfish harvest after the initial closure of 11,900 acres in 1987 due to pollution. The Stillaguamish Tribe started collecting marine water samples in the Port Susan shellfish area in 1998 and the state Department of Health began analyzing the tribe's samples in 2002. The tribe submitted a formal request to the health department in 2007 for approval of shellfish harvesting in 2007.
The greatest threat to the continued return of shellfish beds to the bays at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River is fecal coliform, from septic system failures and animal manure in the local streams, Indrebo said.
"The waste flows down river and the coliform then accumulates in shellfish," Indrebo said. "There is help available to people who want to keep the streams and the river clean."
Taylor Shellfish Co. representatives, Pacific Shellfish Institute members and Sean Edwards from the Snohomish County surface water management team plan to talk about water quality, ocean acidification and how shellfish serve the greater ecosystem. Students from Stanwood High School also plan to present their research on water quality.
People also can learn about volunteer opportunities in and around the bays of north Snohomish County.
The free dinner is to include local shellfish and produce prepared by Danny Pickering of the Stanwood Grill. Space is limited.
The event also includes free recipes and prizes from Stanwood Cupcakes, Jersey Mikes Subs, the Stanwood Grill, Ivar's restaurants, Misty Mountain Farm and Black Label Desserts.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reserve a spot at the table for the free clam dinner set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center, 27130 102nd Ave. NW, in Stanwood, call 425-252-6686 by Friday.
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