SAMISH BAY, Wash. -- Shellfish have sustained the Blau family for five generations.

It's a good clean life, said 73-year-old Paul Blau, whose grandfather started the family farm in 1935. It's a lot of hard work.

But that good clean life is increasingly sullied by dirty waters. Bacteria in Samish Bay has forced a state shutdown of the critical summer oyster harvest. It threatens to sink half of the family s summertime catch this year.

Samish Bay is the third biggest shellfish producer in Puget Sound, shipping the product around the world. Northwesterners love raw oysters, especially in the summer, but now those from Samish Bay are off limits. Farms affected by the bacteria can still sell the oysters, but they must be labeled cook only.

For the Blaus, the expected drop in business could mean layoffs and a 10% loss in income this year.

There s nothing we can do about it, said Blau. What s gonna happen is gonna happen.

Farmers say shutdowns like this used to be rare. Now they happen about once per year.

It's really hurting us, said Steven Blau, Paul's son.

Blau Oyster Company used to produce 30 gallons of oysters every day. Now that s down to ten. They believe stricter state water testing is responsible for the shutdowns. The bigger question is whether warmer water, where bacteria thrive, can be attributed to climate change.

At this point, the Blau s just don t know. For now, they focus on getting other shellfish, like clams, to market to keep the way of life that they love so much alive. Said Steven,

Hopefully, we can still keep it going, said Steven. We re gonna try our hardest.

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