Business

Mussel lovers rejoice as Penn Cove reopens for harvest

Charlie Rodgers, a skipper at Penn Cove Shellfish, holds up a handful of freshly harvested mussels. State regulators reopened commercial harvesting late Friday after nearly a month-long shutdown.   - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Charlie Rodgers, a skipper at Penn Cove Shellfish, holds up a handful of freshly harvested mussels. State regulators reopened commercial harvesting late Friday after nearly a month-long shutdown.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

After being shutdown for nearly a month, Coupeville’s famous mussel farm is once again harvesting in Penn Cove.

Ian Jefferds, owner of Penn Cove Shellfish, said state regulators gave the farm the green light Friday afternoon and the first harvest in about four weeks began in earnest over the weekend.

When asked if he was relieved the closure was finally over, Jefferds said, “Absolutely. Now we see if we can make up for lost time.”

The state Department of Health closed Penn Cove for shellfish harvesting on May 15 following the burning and sinking of a 128-foot fishing boat. It had been illegally anchored just outside the mussel rafts for months.

sMore than 5,000 gallons of fuel were recovered from the ship and on the surface after it went down but not before the fishery was closed. The derelict vessel was raised earlier this month, June 3, at a cost of about $2.7 million.

While some areas were reopened for shellfish harvesting two days after the raising, the majority of Penn Cove wasn’t opened for commercial and recreation harvesting until Friday.

Madrona Beach remains closed as slight contamination was detected in the latest round of odor and taste testing.

The closure has been tough on the renowned mussel farm. The company lost a day of sales, representing over $40,000, the day after the ship sank. The farm was able to mitigate most of its losses from there by shifting harvesting operations to its farm in Quilcene.

Despite the hardship, Jefferds said the disaster could have been a lot worse and expressed gratitude to all the local, state and federal agencies that worked for weeks to control pollution and remove the vessel.

Jefferds said he hasn’t yet tallied all the financial damages the farm incurred from the sinking and closure. For now, he’s content to be back in business in Penn Cove and serving locally grown shellfish to the community.

“The mussels are really fat and sweet and we’re just happy to have them back on local menus,” Jefferds said.

 

Community Events, April 2014

Add an Event
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Apr 16 edition online now. Browse the archives.