Leaders of two state agencies say poachers are threatening the existence of the state's iconic geoduck, and the state is cracking down.
For shellfish connoisseurs like the chefs at Seattle Marche' restaurant, the thought of losing the versatile geoduck is not a pleasant thought.
"We want to look after things because we want to continue to enjoy and use it," said Chef Daisley Gordon.
Saving the geoduck starts on the water. State Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural resources officers patrol the state's most productive geoduck waters.
They dive deep to observe harvesters and nab poachers. It's labor intensive police work and it's not working.
State biologists say highly valuable geoduck beds are not recovering. Poachers, knowing they can make quick cash and lots of it, are decimating the shellfish that take years to mature.
Geoducks can live a hundred years if you let them.
The agencies are preparing to seek more state money to beef up patrols and study and are considering changes to legal harvesting rules.
Those who enjoy serving geoducks say that's a small price to pay.
"Hoping for the best and I certainly willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that source is perpetual,” said Gordon.