Shellfish growers join DNR rural economic partnership

March 15, 2018

DNR commits to help research new burrowing shrimp infestation control methods

(Pacific County) The Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) yesterday joined the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) for the official launch of the Rural Communities Initiative Partnership (RCIP), a new state effort which aims to build economic opportunities in Washington’s rural communities reliant on natural resources as a major source of employment.

“The shellfish industry is the largest private employer in rural Pacific County,” said Ken Wiegardt, president of WGHOGA. “Dramatic increases in burrowing shrimp populations threaten the environment and economies in Southwest Washington. This new partnership has the potential to benefit the many residents of Grays Harbor and Pacific County whose livelihoods depend on these jobs. We again want to thank Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz for this opportunity.”

WGHOGA is one of the first four groups selected to be included in the RCIP, out of more than 80 initial applicants. WGHOGA members will partner with DNR and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to further existing burrowing shrimp research and develop new potential integrated pest management methods.

“We appreciate Commissioner Franz’s recognition of the threat posed by the burrowing shrimp infestation, both to our private farmlands and to state public lands, and are grateful for the time, attention, and resources she is committing to addressing it,” said Kathleen Nisbet-Moncy of Nisbet Oyster Company. “Oyster growers await Department of Ecology’s decision to issue us a permit to treat our commercial oyster beds and save farmland that is already disappearing, but we fully understand that our permit will only apply to 500 acres and that the infestation is rapidly spreading throughout the estuary itself. Exploring other ways to control the burrowing shrimp is critical both to saving our farms and to ensuring that the entire estuary is not overtaken by the infestation, and we are eager to work with DNR and Ag to make some much-needed progress here.”

More information about the burrowing ghost shrimp infestation and WGHOGA’s efforts to save their rapidly disappearing commercial farmlands can be found here: