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Suquamish proposes clam-raising operation at Port of Poulsbo

POULSBO — The Suquamish Tribe Fisheries Department wants to try a new clam-raising operation in Liberty Bay.

Luke Kelly, shellfish program coordinator, explained the program to Port of Poulsbo commissioners March 1, asking to rent a slip on the port’s commercial dock for the operation.

A “Flupsy,” or Floating Upwelling System, looks like a dock or a floating ramp, Kelly said. The structure is approximately 14 feet wide by 20 feet long, holding bins with clam seedlings and screens at the bottom. As the water rushes up the bins and out through a trough in the center, the clams absorb more nutrients and grow faster.

After two to three months, once the clams reach a certain size, Fisheries will remove them and plant them on Suquamish-area beaches for harvest or conservation.

“It’s an environmentally-friendly way to seed beaches,” Kelly said. “It’s good for the environment, good for harvesting of clams and the commercial side of things. It’s a pretty low-impact, low-cost program.

“We’re pretty excited to try it to see how works for the tribe.”

Kelly said the Fisheries Department chose Liberty Bay because the Flupsy needs a protected area and the department wanted to keep the program local. Kitsap Public Health recently announced Liberty Bay’s water quality is now up to Department of Ecology standards, and Kelly said residents don’t have to be concerned about past shellfish closures.

Clams destined for the dinner table will be harvested after three years on the beach, and those clams left on the beach are the “recruitment of future clam generations,” Kelly said. For those that will be harvested for food, Kelly said three years is plenty of time for them to be safe to eat. Port commissioners Tony DeCarlo and Jim Rutledge said they had no objection, but will look into it further and discuss it again at the commission's April 5 meeting. If the port OKs the use of program, Kelly said it will begin mid-April.

 

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