OLYMPIA – A four-day razor clam dig scheduled to start Tuesday, Jan. 29 received final approval today from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) after a review of test results that indicate the clams are safe to eat.
Digging will be allowed on four ocean beaches Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 from noon until 11:59 p.m. each day. Beaches opening those days are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Kalaloch.
Plans to open the four beaches for a weekday dig were announced in early January, but final approval had to wait for an analysis of marine toxin tests conducted by the state Department of Health, said Dan Ayres, WDFW razor clam biologist.
"We try to give diggers as much advanced notice about openings as possible, but the tides were such that test results weren't available until today," Ayres said. "I know a lot of people have been waiting for this news."
Ayres emphasized that the Mocrocks will not open for recreational digging this week, due to a scheduled dig by members of the Quinault Indian Nation. While tribal diggers will be present on the beach, non-tribal diggers should be aware that digging this week at Mocrocks is open only to members of the Quinault Indian Nation, Ayres said.
Recreational digging will be allowed this week at Kalaloch beach, where harvest opportunities were restricted throughout the fall season due to a high abundance of small clams.
"The clams have been growing and many have now reached desirable size," Ayres said. "However, harvesters should be aware that future digging opportunities at Kalaloch could be compromised if wastage of small clams becomes an issue."
Another razor clam opening has been tentatively scheduled Feb. 27 through March 2 (Wednesday through Saturday), with digging allowed each day from noon until 11:59 p.m. at Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Final approval of those digs is contingent on an analysis of marine toxin tests, conducted several days prior to the scheduled openings.
Ayres noted that Kalaloch was added to the original list of scheduled openings under an agreement with the Olympic National Park, which owns the beach. However, Twin Harbors will not open during the dig planned Feb. 27 through March 2, because the beach has fewer clams remaining under its total allowable catch, he said.
"We want to save some clams at Twin Harbors for harvest opportunities in the spring," Ayres said.
Ayres reminds prospective clam diggers that they must have a valid shellfish/seaweed license, combination license or two-day license to harvest shellfish. For licensing information, see the WDFW Fishing in Washington pamphlet.
Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's limit must be kept in a separate container.