OLYMPIA – Clam diggers today got the green light to proceed with a razor clam dig at three ocean beaches Jan. 27-29, but final word on a fourth beach – Kalaloch – won’t be available until the day before digging begins.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved digs on evening tides at Long Beach, Mocrocks and Twin Harbors beaches after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed that the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.
But heavy surf earlier this week thwarted efforts to dig clams for testing at Kalaloch, delaying a decision on opening the beach to a public dig until the afternoon of Jan. 26.
“Park and WDFW biologists will work together next week, hoping for better surf conditions and trying to dig enough clams to test,” said Bill Laitner, superintendent of Olympic National Park, which includes Kalaloch Beach. “The timing is unfortunate, but safety is our primary consideration and health protocols require that clams meet state health standards in two test digs before we open the fishery.”
Once test results are available, final word on the proposed dig at Kalaloch will be announced by the National Park, which manages the recreational fishery cooperatively with WDFW. In addition to informing the news media, WDFW will announce the decision on its Shellfish Hotline (866-880-5431) and post it on the department’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/).
“We urge everyone thinking about digging razor clams at Kalaloch next week to check those sources before they leave home,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “We haven’t had any trouble with marine toxins this season, but there are no guarantees that will continue.”
At the other three beaches – Long Beach, Mocrocks and Twin Harbors – digging will be restricted to evening tides, with no digging allowed at any beach before noon.
Copalis Beach will remain closed to digging in January to ensure that enough clams are available for harvest in April, when the tides allow for morning digs, Ayres said. The closed beach lies between the Grays Harbor North Jetty and the Copalis River and includes the Ocean Shores and Ocean City areas.
“Copalis is a very popular beach, and it was clear that we weren’t going to have enough harvestable clams to last through the spring season,” Ayres said. “Since the weather is usually better later in the year, it made sense to take a break this month.”
However, Copalis Beach is tentatively scheduled to open for digging along with the other four beaches Feb. 24-26 on evening tides, Ayres said. The decision about whether to proceed with that dig will be made next month, after another round of marine toxin tests has been completed, he said.
As always, Ayres recommends that diggers hit the beach at least an hour before low tide for best results.
Evening low tides for the Jan. 27-29 dig are:
- Friday, Jan. 27: 5 p.m., -0.3 ft,
- Saturday, Jan. 28: 5:49 p.m., -0.7 ft.
- Sunday, Jan. 29: 6:34 p.m., -1.0 ft.
Digging is prohibited in the three one-quarter-mile-wide razor clam reserves, which are marked by 10-foot metal poles with signs. The reserves are located just south of the Ocean City access road on Copalis Beach, on the county line approach to Twin Harbors Beach, and 2.8 miles north of the Oysterville access road on Long Beach.