OLYMPIA - A new surcharge will be levied starting July 1 on Washington shellfishing and combination fishing licenses to pay for stepped-up monitoring of domoic acid, the substance that closed the state's razor clam season this year.
The shellfishing surcharge, recently approved by the Legislature, was signed into law last week by Gov. Gary Locke. The governor also signed other licensing legislation that will levy a $10 fee for duplicate or subsequent catch record cards.
The shellfishing surcharge will add $3 to the cost of annual shellfish licenses and $2 to the cost of annual combination fishing licenses.
The surcharge will fund biotoxin testing and monitoring by the state Department of Health on beaches used for recreational shellfishing and by the Olympic Regional Harmful Algal Bloom (ORHAB) monitoring program. ORHAB is a collaboration of government, academia, business and tribes established to study harmful algal blooms on the Washington coast. The group's efforts are aimed at developing an understanding of the environmental conditions that cause blooms and developing models to predict blooms and mitigate their effects.
The pseudo-nitzschia form of algae produces domoic acid, a marine toxin that can cause serious illness, loss of short-term memory and even death, if ingested in sufficient quantities. High levels of domoic acid at Washington beaches prevented the opening of any razor clam harvest this past fall and spring. Similar conditions prompted season-long closures in 1991-92 and again in 1998-99.
The catch record card provision will levy a $10 charge when an individual either has lost a catch record card (CRC) and requires a duplicate card, or needs a subsequent CRC to continue recording additional harvest of steelhead, salmon, crab or halibut. Fishers of all ages, including youth, are subject to the $10 fee for duplicate or subsequent cards.
One catch record card is provided free with the purchase of each recreational fishing license, and must be used by recreational fishers to report each salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut or Dungeness crab caught. The catch estimates generated by the catch record card system are used by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to manage fisheries.