OLYMPIA - All five razor clam beaches on the Washington coast will open for clam digging in late April if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
If test results are favorable, two beaches - Long Beach and Twin Harbors - will be open to clam digging on morning tides for four days, April 21-24. The other three beaches - Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch - are tentatively scheduled to open three days on morning tides, April 22-24.
The National Park Service scheduled the proposed dig at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within the Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, noted that the proposed opening in April would give clam diggers their first opportunity of the season to dig razor clams on morning tides. No clam digging will be allowed after noon at any beach.
To participate, diggers must have a valid 2004-05 shellfish/seaweed license, available from license vendors across the state and on-line at http://www.greatlodge.com/. WDFW will also sell licenses at the Willapa Bay Field Station (Nahcotta Lab) at 267 Sandridge Road, Ocean Park, on the Long Beach Peninsula from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21-23 and from 6:30 a.m. until noon April 24.
"We know a lot of people look forward to digging razor clams on morning tides," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. "The tides are now in our favor and we just have to hope the test results for marine toxins are, too."
Under state health protocols, clams must meet state health standards for marine toxins in two separate tests before WDFW can open a beach for digging. Results of the second test should be available from the Washington Department of Health by April 20, when WDFW will make a final determination on the April dig, Ayres said.
WDFW will announce its decision on its website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/), on the department's Shellfish Hotline (1-866-880-5431) and through statewide media.
Unlike Kalaloch and Twin Harbors, the state's other three razor clam beaches would not have qualified for an April dig if WDFW had not recently revised its method of calculating allowable harvest rates for razor clams. Under the new method, the maximum harvest rate on any beach is 30 percent of the clams three inches or longer, up from a rate of 25 percent in effect since 1993.
That change, adopted this month in consultation with the Quinault Nation, will allow for one more dig this season at Copalis, Mocrocks and Long Beach, Ayres said.
"After conducting a thorough analysis of harvest levels in recent years, we concluded that we could offer more digging opportunities without affecting the health of the razor clam population," Ayres said. "Everything we've seen indicates that the stocks will do just fine under the new rate."
As before, 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.
For best results, Ayres recommends that clam enthusiasts start digging at least one hour before low tide. Low morning tides during the proposed opening in April are as follows:
- April 21: 8:30 am / -0.6 ft.
- April 22: 9:06 am / -0.5 ft.
- April 23: 9:43 am / -0.3 ft.
- April 24: 10:22 am / 0.0 ft.
Razor clam beaches currently scheduled to open for digging in late April are defined as follows:
- Long Beach extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula.
- Twin Harbors Beach extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the mouth of Grays Harbor.
- Copalis Beach extends from the Grays Harbor North Jetty to the Copalis River, and includes beaches near Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut and Ocean City.
- Mocrocks Beach extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
- Kalaloch Beach extends from the south beach campground to Brown's Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park. Diggers should be aware that Kalaloch is a wild and primitive beach; vehicles are not allowed on the beach. For more information, people should consult the Olympic National Park website at http://www.nps.gov/olym/ or check at the Kalaloch ranger station.