Who is required to apply to lease a shellfish plat?
The commercial cultivation of molluscan shellfish for human consumption, such as oysters, is declared to be an agricultural activity subject to the regulatory authority of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Where commercial cultivation of shellfish is proposed on state-owned tidelands, the interested party must apply to lease these state-owned lands through ODA (ORS 622.210-220). If the plat is not on state-owned lands you must contact the local land use authority.
Although molluscan shellfish include scallops in any form (except if the final product is the shucked adductor muscle only), and all species of oysters, clams, and mussels—only oysters can be cultivated on shellfish leases unless the lease was in effect on or before June 1st, 1997. If a lease was in effect prior to this date, then the lease holder may apply to grow clams or mussels on that lease. This application must comply with ORS 622.230 and be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $250.
Where can I grow commercial shellfish with a plat lease?
Shellfish growers cultivating shellfish for human consumption are limited to cultivation in areas classified by ODA for commercial shellfish growing and harvesting. Each of these areas has been evaluated for water quality and pollution sources.
- Waters that are classified for commercial harvest have met water quality and pollution source standards.
- Waters that are prohibited have either not been evaluated or they fail to meet water quality and/or pollution standards.
Each classified shellfish area has some prohibited areas around it. Prohibited areas may include one or more significant pollution sources, such as a port, marina, sewage outfall zone, high density of wildlife or livestock, failing septic systems, industrial business zone with chemical contamination, etc.
ODA classified harvest and growing areas include:
- Portions of the Clatsop Beaches (clams harvested from here are required to be sold intra-state only, no out of state sales is permitted)
- Tillamook Bay
- Netarts Bay
- Yaquina Bay
- Umpqua River and Triangle
- Coos Bay
- South Slough
Coos Bay contains tidelands that are not owned by the state. These tidelands are owned by the county, the port authority, and other entities. If you are interested in leasing tidelands in Coos Bay contact the Coos County land use authority.
Areas currently prohibited for harvesting or growing to sell for human consumption include:
- All ocean coastal beaches except the Clatsop Beaches
- Columbia River
- Nehalem Bay
- Siletz River
- Alsea Bay
- Siuslaw River
- Coquille River
How do I apply for a shellfish plat lease?
After you determine which ODA classified shellfish harvest and growing area you plan to harvest shellfish from, contact the ODA Food Safety Program at 503-986-4720 to request information for a pre-application meeting. ODA can email you a copy of the shellfish plat pre-application questionnaire or you can print a copy of the shellfish plat pre-application questionnaire. Fill the questionnaire out and return prior to to the shellfish programs before the pre-application meeting. ODA will arrange the pre-application meeting with the applicant, ODA, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). After the pre-application meeting ODA will provide a plat application packet with instructions to the applicant. You can print the application instructions to make sure you fill out the plat application correctly.
Return the following items to ODA:
- Completed and signed plat application
- Basic map of the plat lease in the bay with boundaries marked
- $250 non-refundable plat filing fee
How is a shellfish plat lease approved?
The application process is explained in the plat lease flowchart.
The pre-application meeting is held before the application is turned in to help the applicant determine a suitable lease location that is more likely to make it through the application process. After the applicant turns in a completed application packet the next major step is public comment. ODA will provide specific instructions and language for how you provide public notice in your local newspaper, meanwhile ODA will provide copies of your plat application to any interested parties who may then comment either in support of, or in opposition to, your application. Interested parties include federal and state agencies, tribal governments, local governments, conservation groups, local shellfish businesses, private businesses and others. ODA will review these comments for any that could cause the denial or partial denial of your plat application.
ODA will attempt to deliver a provisional decision on the plat application within 90 days of publishing the application announcement in your local newspaper. Once completed, ODA will either provisionally approve your plat lease 'as is', provisionally approve it 'in part', or deny it entirely. However, ODA is only the first step in getting the plat approved. ODA's provisional approval is contingent upon the plat being approved by additional agencies.
You have the right to a formal appeal if any portion of your application is denied (OAR 603-082-0060).
If any part of your application is provisionally approved, then you must hire a licensed surveyor to survey the lease and provide a legal description of the plat boundaries. You provide the official map and legal description completed by the licensed surveyor to ODA. ODA will forward this to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who determine if they will grant a federal land use permit. ODA can only approve applications that are granted this permit. Once the permit is received, ODA will provide a final approval of the plat application and the applicant may begin harvesting or growing shellfish on the plat.
Before you can harvest shellfish to sell for human consumption you must also be licensed by ODA as a shellfish harvester or grower.
Transferring a plat lease to another party can be initiated by filling out the Notice of Plat Transfer Form. The previous lease holder and the new lease holder will both need to sign and date the form, fill it out completely, and return it to ODA. The transfer does not change any terms of the grant certificate, including any provisions for how aquaculture is to be conducted on the transferred plat(s). The new lease holder must obtain the required licenses from ODA Food Safety Program before selling any farmed shellfish from the transferred plat(s). Cultivation fees and use taxes apply (see below).
An ODFW permit is required to transport shellfish for the purpose of planting in the waters of the State of Oregon. This includes any shellfish for the purpose of planting from waters outside the State of Oregon or from transport from one water body to another within the State of Oregon. For more information on this permit and the application form to transport shellfish, contact Matt Hunter, Shellfish Project Leader, ODFW at 503-325-2462 or email at Matthew.email@example.com
ORS 622.280 gives ODA the authority to withdraw and abandon a lease if it is not being used to actively farm shellfish. Active farming and productivity is demonstrated through reporting of production as required under ORS 622.270. Lands can be withdrawn for failure to pay acreage fees, and for failure to report production numbers. You can estimate your annual lease costs as follows for annual cultivation fees and use taxes;