OLYMPIA– The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is replacing clam diggers' licenses that were lost recently on coastal beaches when the licenses' adhesive backing failed.
Meanwhile, WDFW licensing officials are encouraging clam diggers and other shellfishers to safeguard their licenses either by laminating them, placing them in a plastic sleeve or stapling the license document to its backing.
So far, about 50 people have notified WDFW that they lost their shellfish licenses when the documents came loose from their backing in strong winds and salt air during razor clam digs on coastal beaches.
Under current state law, shellfishers are required to wear their licenses on their outer garments so they are visible to enforcement officers.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to seek legislation next year to eliminate the external-wear requirement for shellfish licenses, according to Jim Lux, the Department's assistant director for business services. The external-wear requirement, enacted when the state began licensing shellfishers, was originally intended to expedite law enforcement when thousands of people at a time are on the beach digging clams.
WDFW license officials are replacing the lost licenses of holders who still have the original backing, according to Bruce Crawford, WDFW licensing manager. License holders seeking replacements may visit a WDFW office in person or may mail the backing with an explanatory statement and a return address to the WDFW Licensing Division, at 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA 98501-1091, Crawford said.
The license documents produced by WDFW's new computerized Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD) system consist of a waterproof license document attached to a Tyvek backing with a strong adhesive used for marine decals, said Crawford. License documents issued less than one day before use might be more prone to loss because the adhesive can take about 24 hours to fully set, Crawford added.
The license problems so far appear to affect only clam diggers, although all shellfishers are advised to take steps to laminate or otherwise safeguard their licenses.