OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to open several coastal beaches for razor clam digging in mid-February if scheduled marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.
Provided those test results are favorable, the department will proceed with a three-day razor clam dig Feb. 19-21 on evening tides at up to three ocean beaches, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
After harvest data from the February dig has been reviewed, WDFW then hopes to announce another multi-day opening in April, Ayres said.
Beaches tentatively scheduled to open for razor clam digging in February include Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch. The dig at Kalaloch Beach, which lies within the boundaries of the Olympic National Park, was tentatively scheduled by park officials to coincide with those at the other two coastal beaches.
No digging would be allowed at any beach before noon.
Two ocean beaches - Copalis and Mocrocks - will not be open for razor clam digging in February, said Ayres, noting that the season's non-tribal catch allocation has already been reached during previous digs.
"Unfortunately, we won't be able to offer any more harvest opportunities at Copalis or Mocrocks beaches this season," said Ayres, noting that "we still have some good digging ahead at other coastal beaches."
Ayres said WDFW expects to make a final decision about whether to proceed with a mid-February razor clam opening by Feb. 18, when the second of two sets of sample clams have been tested for marine toxins by the state Department of Health.
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, Ayres 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 the proposed dates in February, evening low tides are as follows:
- Thursday, Feb. 19 - 6:01 p.m. (-0.4 feet)
- Friday, Feb. 20 - 6:43 p.m. (-0.3 feet)
- Saturday, Feb. 21 - 7:22 p.m. (0.0 feet)
The three beaches tentatively scheduled to open for razor-clam digging in mid-February are:
- Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula.
- Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the mouth of Grays Harbor.
- Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the south beach campground to Brown's Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.
The two beaches not scheduled to open for razor-clam digging in February are:
- Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor North Jetty to the Copalis River, and includes beaches near Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut and Ocean City.
- Mocrocks Beach, which 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.
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. Diggers must have a valid 2003-04 license to participate.