Three of the most popular commercial shellfish fishing areas have been restricted for use, according to a new report, due to pollution making the shellfish unsafe for human consumption.

The Washington State Department of Health says Pierce, Mason and Whatcom Counties now have restrictions in some very popular areas due to what is being called fecal (poop) pollution in the water.  The pollution exceeds acceptable health standards.

Another 17 areas have been listed as declining, due to pollution issues. These areas include:

"The downgraded areas are Hood Canal 6 (Alderbrook area, Mason County), Pickering Passage (McLane Cove, Mason County) and Vaughn Bay (Pierce County). Harvesting was also recently limited on about 500 acres of Portage Bay in Whatcom County.  The “threatened” shellfish harvest areas include: Clallam County – East Straits; Grays Harbor County – Grays Harbor, Pacific Coast; Jefferson County – Hood Canal #3; King County – East Passage, Poverty Bay; Kitsap County – Port Orchard Passage; Mason County – North Bay; Pacific County – Bay Center, Naselle River, Nemah River; Pierce County – Rocky Bay, Vaughn Bay; Skagit County – Swinomish; Snohomish County – South Skagit Bay; Thurston County – Henderson Inlet; Whatcom County – Portage Bay."

These areas are still usable, but continue declines in water quality will soon render them unfit for harvesting.

However, state officials say overall since 2007, over 2,800 acres of shellfish harvesting areas have been improved and added due to pollution reduction and control efforts. So it's a balancing act - on one hand certain areas are declining, but others have gotten better.

This information came from the Department's annual "bill of health" report on the state's 102 official shellfish harvesting areas.  Shellfish harvesting is not only a large source of income commercially for the state, but a very popular spectator past time as well.