OLYMPIA - Clam diggers today got the green light to proceed with a holiday razor clam dig Sunday through Tuesday, Dec. 21-23, on evening tides at several coastal beaches in Washington.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved three days of digging at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch beaches after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed that the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.
Mocrocks Beach will also be open for digging Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, but will be closed Dec. 23 to save a portion of its annual harvest allocation for future openings.
The Quinault Indian Nation is planning to harvest razor clams that week on the Copalis Beach near Ocean Shores, but the beach will remain closed to non-tribal harvest in December. Non-tribal diggers harvested their portion of the beach's allocation during previous openings, but the tribe still has enough clams left in its share to accommodate a tribal dig. Copalis Beach extends from the Grays Harbor North Jetty to the Copalis River, and includes beaches near Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut and Ocean City.
No non-tribal digging will be allowed before noon on any beach during the December opening.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the December opening was set to coincide with the winter holidays, so families could dig clams together.
"We know that digging razor clams is a tradition for a lot of families, so we decided to set these dates during the holiday season," Ayres said. He noted that Olympic National Park scheduled razor clam digs at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within park boundaries, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.
Ayres said WDFW is also tentatively planning a dig Jan. 18-20 at several beaches to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Final word on that dig will be announced after another round of marine toxin tests have been conducted, he said.
Through mid-March, all razor clam digs will be set for afternoon and evening hours "because that's when the best clam tides are during fall and winter months," Ayres said. For this month's dig, evening low tides are as follows:
- Sunday, Dec. 21 - 4:52 p.m. (-0.7 feet)
- Monday, Dec. 22 - 5:43 p.m. (-1.2 feet)
- Tuesday, Dec. 23 - 6:33 p.m. (-1.4 feet)
To participate in this month's opening, diggers must have a valid 2003-04 license. 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.
The four beaches tentatively scheduled to open for razor-clam digging Dec. 21 include:
- Long Beach, from the Columbia River 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.
- Kalaloch Beach, from the south beach campground to Brown's Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park. Visitors to the park are advised to consult area bulletin boards for park safety and other information.
- Mocrocks Beach, 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.