OLYMPIA - Clam diggers have a green light to proceed with a three-day razor clam dig next week at four ocean beaches.
Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches will all be open to razor clam digging between noon and midnight Dec. 10, 11 and 12, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The department approved the dig - the third of the fall season - after a series of marine toxin tests showed that the clams on those four beaches are safe to eat, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
The exception was Kalaloch Beach in the Olympic National Park, where a toxin-producing bloom of pseudo-nitzschia algae washed ashore last July. Kalaloch will remain closed to digging as long as domoic acid levels continue to exceed state and federal health standards, Ayres said.
"We're hoping to open Kalaloch to digging as toxin levels decline in the months ahead," said Ayres, noting that the beach is jointly managed by WDFW and the national park. "In the meantime, there are still plenty of razor clams available for harvest at the other four beaches."
For best results, Ayres recommends that clammers start digging at least one hour before low tide. Low tides during the upcoming three-day opening are:
- Dec. 10 (Friday): 5:12 p.m., -0.7 ft.
- Dec. 11 (Saturday): 6:01 p.m., -1.2 ft.
- Dec. 12 (Sunday): 6:49 p.m., -1.5 ft.
WDFW also announced tentative dates for additional digs on evening tides through March of 2005, all contingent on the results of future marine toxin tests. Tentative dates are noted below, along with low evening tides:
- Jan. 7 (Friday): 4:01 p.m., +0.1
- Jan. 8 (Saturday): 4:55 p.m., -0.5
- Jan. 9 (Sunday): 5:47, -1.0
- Feb. 5 (Saturday): 3:41 p.m., +0.3
- Feb. 6 (Sunday): 4:38 p.m., -0.3
- Feb. 7 (Monday): 5:30 p.m., -0.7
- March 6 (Sunday): 3:21 p.m., +0.3
- March 7 (Monday): 4:18 p.m., -0.1
- March 8 (Tuesday): 5:08 p.m., -0.4
"The best clam-digging tides at this time of year are during the evening hours, so that's when we schedule the digs," Ayres said. "We do, however, hope to schedule some morning digs come spring."
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.
Ayres reminds those planning to dig razor clams during the upcoming opening that a license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2004 annual shellfish/seaweed license purchased since April 1 is still valid.
One new option is a "razor clam only" license now available in both annual and 3-day versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW web site at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov
For anyone needing to purchase a license, Ayres strongly recommends doing so before leaving home to avoid long lines that often form at coastal license dealers during a dig.
However, to help ease the pressure on coastal dealers, WDFW will sell licenses at the Willapa Bay Field Station, 26700 Sandridge Rd., Ocean Park, on the Long Beach Peninsula. Licenses will be sold at the Field Station - also known as the "Nahcotta Lab" - from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 12.
Specific areas that will be open for digging after noon those days are:
- Long Beach, from North Head to Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula.
- Twin Harbors, from the South Jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor south to the mouth of Willapa Bay.
- Copalis Beach, from Ocean Shores to the Copalis River.
- Mocrocks Beach, from the Copalis to the Moclips River.