MONTESANO – Three ocean beaches are tentatively scheduled to open for recreational razor clam digging in December -- pending the results of a final test for marine toxins next week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Doug Simons, regional WDFW razor clam manager, said recent tests showed the incidence of domoic acid to be well below toxic levels at all three beaches, setting the stage for possible openings beginning Dec. 19.
Assuming the final tests by the Washington Department of Health continue to find no risk from marine toxins, Simons said WDFW plans to open the following beaches this month.
- Twin Harbors beaches, including those in the North Cove, Grayland and Westport areas, would open from Dec. 19 through Dec. 23 for five consecutive days of digging.
- Copalis Beach, which includes Ocean Shores, Ocean City and Copalis, would open Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.
- Long Beach would open Dec. 20 and 21 as previously announced.
Digging in all three areas would be confined to the hours between noon and midnight.
"All the testing done so far has shown that the clams at all three beaches are perfectly safe to eat," Simons said. "We always need to put safety first, but we are really hoping to be able to reopen those areas to all the people who want to go clamming."
Simons said WDFW will wait for the results of the final tests -- due next week -- before issuing a final announcement about December season openings. But he said he did not expect to see a replay of the fall opener in October, when Twin Harbors beaches were closed down due to elevated levels of the marine toxin.
"We're announcing a tentative schedule now so that people can figure it into their own plans," Simons said. "Clamming is a very popular activity in this state and we don't want people to miss out."
Two beach areas will remain closed during the winter months, but may reopen for spring digging. Closed areas are Kalaloch and the area known as Mocrocks, which includes Iron Springs, Roosevelt, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
At the open beaches, harvesters may take only the first 15 razor clams they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container. No digging is allowed in the three-quarter-mile reserve areas marked with orange poles and signs.