OLYMPIA - Four of five razor clam beaches on the Washington coast will open for digging May 7-8 on morning tides as previously scheduled, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
WDFW gave final approval for the dig at Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis and Kalaloch beaches after marine toxin tests found that clams on those beaches are safe to eat.
All four beaches will be open between midnight and noon each day of the two-day dig.
The exception is Long Beach, which will remain closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid in clams tested by the Washington Department of Heath. A naturally occurring toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, domoic acid can be harmful or even fatal if ingested in sufficient quantities.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the elevated toxin levels detected at Long Beach were likely caused by the same algal bloom that prompted the State of Oregon to close all coastal beaches to razor clam digging last week.
"The good news is that the clams still meet state and federal health standards north of Long Beach," Ayres said. "The bad news, of course, is that we can't open Long Beach for what we expect to be the last razor-clam dig of the season."
Since the current season opened last October, most beaches are now nearing the end of their harvest quota, Ayres said. In fact, he said, WDFW was only able to include Copalis Beach in the proposed May dig because the Quinault Indian Nation gifted 180,000 clams from their share of the harvest to the non-tribal share.
"We really appreciate the Quinault's generosity," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. "Particularly with Long Beach closed, the fact that we can open Copalis will really contribute to the success of this final dig of the season."
Ayres noted that diggers must carry a valid 2005-06 license to participate in the upcoming opening. 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 clammers start digging at least one hour before low tide. Low tides during the upcoming dig are:
- Saturday, May 7: 6:34 a.m., -1.0
- Sunday, May 8: 7:17 a.m., -1.3
Ayres noted that the recreational razor clam fishery at Kalaloch is managed by Olympic National Park in cooperation with WDFW. Those planning to dig clams at Kalaloch are advised that the park's beaches are closed to vehicle traffic, and parking is allowed only in designated parking areas; no parking is allowed on U.S. Highway 101. Diggers are urged to consider carpooling, as parking options are limited.
For more information about visiting Olympic National Park, including camping and lodging information for the Kalaloch area, people can visit the Olympic National Park website (http://www.nps.gov/olym). Information about razor clamming can be found on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) and by calling the WDFW Shellfish Hotline (1-866-880-5431).