What is a molluscan shellfish? What products are included?
Scallops in any form (except if the final product is the shucked adductor muscle only) and all species of oysters, clams, and mussels including
- Shucked or in the shell
- Post-harvest processed
- Frozen or unfrozen
- Whole or in part
Shellfish that has been cooked or have other ingredients added are covered under the Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.
Why are licenses required for buying, distributing, or processing shellfish?
Molluscan shellfish, such as clams and oysters, can filter contaminants, including bacteria, viruses and toxins, from the marine waters where they grow. Molluscan shellfish can concentrate contaminants to higher levels than when they were in the marine water, which can cause illness when consumed. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) evaluates shellfish areas and licenses shellfish growers, harvesters, dealers and processors. ODA evaluates each area for water quality and pollution sources. Areas that meet water quality and pollution source criteria are then classified for commercial harvest. Areas that are not evaluated or fail to meet the criteria are prohibited for commercial shellfish harvest.
Who must be licensed?
- Commercial shellfish harvesters or growers selling clams, oysters, mussels, or whole scallops for human consumption must be licensed by ODA.
- Commercial shellfish harvesters and growers who sell for human consumption are limited to ODA classified shellfish harvesting areas. Classified areas include portions of the Clatsop Beaches, Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, Yaquina Bay, Umpqua River and Triangle, Coos Bay and South Slough.
- Areas that are currently prohibited for harvesting or growing to sell for human consumption include all coastal beaches (except the Clatsop Beaches), the Columbia River, Nehalem Bay, Siletz River, Alsea Bay, Siuslaw River and the Coquille River.
- Harvesters must provide ODA with information about each of their harvest areas, including a map and legal description with boundaries. Contact ODA to obtain copies of the current management plans for areas where you plan to harvest.
- An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) commercial fishing license is required for harvesting wild shellfish. ODFW shellfish harvest permits are available at ODFW offices.
Types of commercial shellfish licenses
Dealers are persons engaged in the business of growing, harvesting, processing or distributing shellfish for human consumption.
Dealer engaged in the business of growing shellfish intended for human consumption. Dealer will be certified as a grower and assigned a certification number designating (GR) as the type of operation.
Dealer who harvests shellfish intended for human consumption or employs persons to harvest shellfish intended for human consumption from growing areas. Dealer will be certified as a harvester and assigned a certification number designating harvester (HV) as type of operation.
- Harvesters must sell only to buyers who are ODA certified shellfish dealers approved to buy shellfish from harvesters.
- The harvester is also responsible for assuring the dealer is also an ODFW licensed wholesale fish buyer.
- Harvesters may not distribute shellfish for human consumption to restaurants or retail stores.
- Any such sales will be prosecuted under ODA laws for food safety, see ORS 622.
- Commercial harvesting of inter-tidal and sub-tidal clams may be restricted by ODFW.
- Contact ODFW, Newport Marine Resources Program for information about this limited participation program.
Shellstock shippers (SS)
Dealers who buy, sell, or ship shellstock. Dealer will be certified as a distributor and assigned a certification number designating shellstock shipper (SS) as the type of operation.
- A shellstock shipper may ship shucked shellfish, but is not authorized to shuck or repack shucked shellfish.
Dealers who shuck, pack, and repack shellfish. Dealer will be certified as shucker-packer and assigned a certification number designating shucker-packer (SP) as the type of operation.
Shellfish canner license, commercial
This license is administered by ODFW and is required if you are commercially canning clams or mussels (not oysters). In addition, you must have a food processor’s license from ODA. More information about ODA food processor licensing.
If you are interested in obtaining a commercial shellfish license please contact our office to obtain an application packet.
National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP)
The State of Oregon has adopted the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) Model Ordinance, Guide for Control of Molluscan Shellfish. Shellfish harvesters, growers, distributors, and processors are required to identify food safety hazards and establish controls for the hazards that are likely to occur. This includes developing a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan. Training is usually required for the development of HACCP plans.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training
- Segment One: Internet Training Course
- Segment Two: Training Session with an Instructor
Find information about HACCP training online. If you already have adequate experience with HACCP, your experience and training may count.
Once a shellfish dealer has obtained HACCP training and started a shellfish HACCP plan, they will need to consider a facility design. Plans for new construction or the remodeling of an existing plant or storage facility shall be submitted to ODA for approval prior to beginning any new construction or remodeling, see OAR 603-100-0030, Shellfish Facilities Plan Review
All dealers (growers, harvesters, shellstock shippers, and shucker-packers) must attach to each container of shellfish a durable, waterproof tag that meets NSSP labeling requirements.
Commercial razor clam harvesting
To harvest razor clams commercially you must obtain an ODA shellfish license and you must obtain a commercial fishing license from ODFW.
All shellfish harvested for use as bait must be dyed on landing with ODFW approved dye (red dye #40) regardless of the area's classification.
ODA has authority to restrict the harvesting and distribution of shellfish sold by commercial processors if there is potential risk for illness in consumers from biotoxins or other causes. ODA will halt the harvesting and distribution of razor clams if sampling indicates shellfish are above the closure limit for biotoxins. People are more likely to suffer illness from eating shellfish with levels of biotoxins above the closure limit.
- Closure limit for domoic acid is 20 ppm (parts per million)
- Closure limit for paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) is 80 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue
Harvest controls are implemented when biotoxins reach the closure limit, thereby reducing the risk to consumers. Shellfish samples are collected regularly, as tides, weather, and surf allow.
ODFW has authority to restrict razor clam harvesting along Clatsop beaches. ODFW issues a conservation closure each year from July 15th through September 30th to protect newly set clams. No harvest of razor clams is allowed during this ODFW closure.
Approved shellfish source information
All retail stores, restaurants, and commercial food processors must purchase fresh and frozen shellfish from certified shellfish dealers only. Retailers may not sell or distribute shellfish to other retail outlets without becoming certified shellfish dealers.
- Shellfish received in interstate commerce must be from a source listed in the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List (ICSSL).
- Razor clams harvested in Oregon are prohibited from interstate sales (they must be sold in-state only).
- ODA shellfish dealers that are not listed on the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shipper List are prohibited from interstate sales or interstate receipt of shellfish.
Retailers and restaurants may only buy
- Shellstock (in-shell) in containers or bags tagged or labeled with original dealer certification number, harvest area, and harvest date.
- Keep the tags with the shellstock containers until empty, once empty retain the tags for 90 days
- Use a record keeping system to track dates shellstock were served or sold
- Shucked shellfish (shells removed) in containers packed by a certified dealer and labeled with the name of dealer and a sell-by or packed date.
- Use a record keeping system to track the shellfish company name, lot number, and dates shucked shellfish were served or sold