RAZOR CLAM HOTLINE
For up-to-date season information, call the Commercial Razor Clam Hotline

(360) 249-4628 ext. 278

 

Bruce Kauffman
Coastal Shellfish Biologist
Willapa Bay Field Station
(360) 665-4166
Bruce.Kauffman@dfw.wa.gov

2014 WDFW Letter
to Commercial Diggers
[PDF]

Rules & Regulations
WAC 220-52-030
Clams – coastal – seasons and areas
Other Information
Latest Domoic Acid Levels in Coastal Shellfish
 
Commercial

Commercial Razor Clam Fishery Regulations and Information

COMMERCIAL RAZOR CLAM FISHERS

Wednesday April 13, 2016.
On April 10th, the fifth pre-season biotoxin test of razor clams from the detached spits in Willapa Bay was collected.  This was an expanded sample covering four different areas of the detached spits.  Unfortunately 3 of the 4 samples tested over the action level.  Samples tested at 36, 27, 27 and 14 ppm Domoic acid which is above the action level of 20 ppm.  Recall, before any management beach can be opened for the harvest of razor clams, the Washington Department of Health (WDOH) protocol requires that all razor clam samples collected from that management area must test under the action level (20 ppm for domoic acid; 80 µg/100g for PSP; and 16 µg/100g for DSP) for two consecutive sample collections.

At this time it is uncertain if or when the 2016 commercial razor clam will open.  WDFW advises harvesters not to purchase their licenses or obtain DNR Right of Entry Agreements until additional samples are collected and analyzed.  Given the elevated biotoxin levels found on April 10th and the low rate of toxin loss in clams, the next sample collection will be in one month, during the minus tide run of May 5-10. 

The next webpage and hotline update will occur the week of May 9th, after the next samples on the detached spits are collected and analyzed

If you have any questions, please call:
Bruce Kauffman, Coastal Shellfish Biologist,
Willapa Bay Field Station, (360) 665-4166.

2016 Commercial razor Clam Fishery
Biotoxin results
Collection Date Sample Type PSP Meat (µg/100g) DSP Meat (µg/100g) Domoic Result (ppm)
02/10/2016 Pre-Season <38 - 33
02/24/2016 Pre-Season NTD - 16
03/11/2016 Pre-Season - - 17
03/20/2016 Pre-Season <38 - 30
04/10/2016 Schuttie Spit NTD NTD 36
04/10/2016 North of Leadbetter <38 NTD 27
04/10/2016 East 240 Spit <38 NTD 14
04/10/2016 North 240 Spit <38 NTD 27

Commercial Harvest

Commercial harvest of razor clams is an old but small fishery in Washington. Each year, the fishery opens during the spring for eight-weeks. Typically, 50 to 100 diggers participate in this open access fishery. The season is slated to start on April 1 of each year once biotoxin levels have been deemed safe by the Washington Department of Health.

Commercial harvest is allowed only on the detached Willapa Spits, located at the mouth of Willapa Bay. The spits are accessible only by boat. Familiarity with the area is vital; the mouth of Willapa Bay is very treacherous.

In order to participate, all diggers need to obtain a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commercial Razor Clam license and a DNR right of entry (ROE) authorization. The license fee is $235 for Washington State residents and $290 for non-residents. DNR charges a $100 application and use fee to harvesters.

Diggers must also either register with a Department of Health certified razor clam dealer or become certified by Department of Health individually.

Certification and Licensing Requirements for Dealers

To purchase clams, individuals or companies must obtain the following items:

  1. Department of Health Shellfish License, and Certification and Inspectionof your operation.Contact Cathy Barker at (360) 236-3303 for an Application and Plan of Operation Questionnaire.

  2. WDFW Wholesale Dealer's License.
    If you plan to buy clams and do not have a Wholesale Dealer's License, contact WDFW Licensing, (360) 902-2464 for appropriate application forms.

    The fee for a wholesale dealer license is $355.

Licensing Requirements for Individual Diggers

In order for an individual harvester to participate in the fishery, you will need items #1 and #2 below if you are selling to a WDOH certified company.

  1. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Commercial Razor Clam License. Each person applying for a commercial razor clam license must complete and sign an application. The fees are $235 for Washington state residents or $290 for non-residents. License applications are available at: http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/commercial/forms/razorclm.pdf. (See section below on Mandatory Digger Registration for additional information on the licensing process.)

  2. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Right-of-Entry (ROE) authorization. All commercial uses on state-owned aquatic lands require authorization for the use of state-owned aquatic lands and the harvest of public resources. DNR charges a $100 application and use fee to harvesters. Payment can be made by CHECK only, not cash or debit/credit cards.

Commercial razor clam harvesters have several options to obtain and submit the required DNR right-of-entry application.

  • Email Sandra Morken at Sandra.morken@dnr.wa.gov or call (360) 902-1065 to receive a permit application either electronically or hard copy; or
  • Visit DNR main office building in Olympia: Natural Resources Building, DNR Aquatics Division, 1111 Washington St., SE, 3rd floor Olympia, WA phone 360-902-1100

Mandatory Digger Registration
All diggers are required to register with a certified razor clam dealer to participate in the fishery. To register, diggers should directly contact a dealer certified by the Department of Health (WDOH) and arrange to be included on the dealer's list of registered diggers. For a current list of certified dealers, contact the Department of Health at (360) 236-3303 or the Department of Fish and Wildlife Region 6 office at (360) 249-4628. Once a dealer(s) has agreed to register you with their company, they will submit your name to Licensing at WDFW. There is no fee to register. WDFW Licensing will only sell commercial razor clam licenses to those individuals whose names appear on the WDFW list of registered diggers. If you apply by mail, your license will not be issued until your name has been received. If you plan to purchase a license in person, first call WDFW Licensing at (360) 902-2464 to confirm that WDFW has your name registered. All commercial diggers must obtain certification tags from the buyer(s) they are registered with prior to harvesting any clams.

WDOH Shellfish Certification Tags
All containers of razor clams must be tagged at the time of harvest regardless of registration status. Diggers will have to make sure they obtain certification tags from the company they plan on delivering to before they dig their catch. Untagged buckets of clams are subject to seizure. For questions regarding razor clam certification contact Cathy Barker – WDOH at (360) 236-3303.

Plan of Operations – Digger List
Companies may add diggers to their Plan of Operation during the season but WDFW will not issue licenses until an updated list is provided by WDOH. Diggers may change companies during season but must follow the same steps described above. The list of diggers for each company will be provided to WDFW Enforcement. Citations can be issued for violations of either WDFW or WDOH regulations.

Fish Tickets and "Take Home"
Wholesale dealers must complete a fish ticket for all commercially harvested razor clams (WAC 220-69-240 or WAC 220-69-241) whether clams are sold, kept by the digger for crab bait, or intended for personal use (WAC 220-20-026). Personal use is limited to one recreational limit (15 clams) per day per digger and must be recorded in the "Take Home" section of the fish receiving ticket (WAC 220-20-026).

License Requirements
Diggers must carry their commercial license on their person while harvesting and while in possession of clams. Unlicensed persons are not permitted to assist with harvesting operations. Diggers should remember that a license is required to "take, dig for or possess" razor clams. Unlicensed digging is not only unfair; it is inconsistent with the policy that fisheries be conducted in an orderly manner. The minimum age for licensing in the commercial razor clam fishery is 16 years.

Transport Tickets
If you intend to sell clams at some location other than the point of landing a "transport ticket" must be filled out and kept with the clams until the point of sale. Transport tickets are available through WDFW Licensing at Olympia; a limited supply is available at the Region 6 office at Montesano.