05/03/2015 04:27 EDT | Updated 05/03/2016 05:12 EDT

Ecology Department withdraws permit for shellfish pesticide spraying

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Department of Ecology says it is cancelling a permit to spray pesticides over shellfish beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

The decision to halt the practice is part of an agreement between the local oyster growers association and the state. The growers association submitted a letter to the Department of Ecology on Sunday.

Environmental concerns were raised in an Associated Press story over the weekend and the department reported hearing from residents across Washington state that the practice did not meet their expectations.

The pesticides were supposed to control burrowing shrimp in the oyster beds. The shrimp burrow into the shellfish beds, making the ground too soft for oysters, causing them to suffocate.