Razor clam digging closed for the season on 3 beaches; Dig at Mocrocks depends on toxin tests

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WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

http://wdfw.wa.gov/

May 4, 2017
Contact
: Dan Ayres, (360) 249-4628

Razor clam digging closed for the season on 3 beaches;
Dig at Mocrocks depends on toxin tests

OLYMPIA – Three of Washington’s ocean beaches will remain closed to razor clam digging for the rest of the season while a potential dig at Mocrocks depends on additional toxin tests.

Test results on razor clams dug at both Long Beach and Twin Harbors beaches indicate levels of domoic acid exceed the threshold (20 parts per million) set by state public health officials, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). 

“Based on the most recent toxin tests, razor clams will not be safe to eat for the remainder of the month at Long Beach or Twin Harbors,” Ayres said. 

Toxin levels at Copalis beach are below the health threshold. However, the beach will remain closed because diggers reached the number of harvestable razor clams for the season there, Ayres said.

State shellfish managers will consider scheduling an opening at Mocrocks later in May, depending on the results of two toxin tests, Ayres said. The first test results indicate levels at Mocrocks are just below the threshold. A second test is scheduled for next week.

“It’s possible toxin levels at Mocrocks will remain low enough to allow another dig there,” Ayres said. “But we need to see what the next results show before scheduling an opening.” 

The department likely will make an announcement next week on whether there will be another dig at Mocrocks this season.

WDFW routinely closes the razor clam fishery by the end of May when the clams begin to spawn. The next season will begin in fall, when the older clams have recovered from spawning and a new generation begins to grow beneath the sand.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. The toxin has posed problems for razor clam and crab fisheries along Washington’s coast for the last two years.

More information about domoic acid, as well as current levels at all ocean beaches, can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_acid.html.

Eight days of razor clam digging begin Jan. 17

OLYMPIA – State fishery managers have given the OK for a second razor clam dig this month, this one scheduled from Jan. 17 through Jan. 24 on evening tides at various ocean beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the eight-day dig after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

Low afternoon tides the first few days will allow diggers to hit the beaches in daylight, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. The best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide. No digging is allowed at any beach before noon.

Ayres noted the dig includes the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Jan. 19, providing an excellent opportunity to sneak away to the coast for a long weekend of clamming.

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Digging has been approved on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

  • Jan. 17, Saturday; 4:15 p.m., 0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis
  • Jan. 18, Sunday; 5:02 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 19, Monday; 5:47 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Jan. 20, Tuesday; 6:30 p.m., -1.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Jan. 21, Wednesday; 7:13 p.m., -1.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Jan. 22, Thursday; 7:56 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Jan. 23, Friday; 8:40 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 24, Saturday; 9:25 p.m., 0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis

WDFW also has proposed another dig in late January, tentatively set to begin Jan. 30 if marine toxin tests are favorable. That dig is tentatively scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

  • Jan. 30, Friday; 3:43 p.m., 0.5 feet Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 31, Saturday; 4:32 p.m., 0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis
  • Feb. 1, Sunday; 5:15 p.m., 0.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Feb. 2, Monday; 5:53 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 3, Tuesday; 6:27 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 4, Wednesday; 6:59 p.m., 0.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 5, Thursday; 7:30 p.m., 0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 6, Friday; 8:00 p.m., 0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

WDFW has razor clam recipes as well as advice on digging and cleaning clams on its webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/ .

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