November 18, 2003
Contact: Dan Ayres (360) 249-4628
Razor clam digs tentatively set for December, January
OLYMPIA - Several coastal beaches will be open for razor clam digging during holiday breaks in December and January if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Pending the results of those tests, WDFW and the Olympic National Park tentatively plan to open beaches for clam digging on evening tides according to the following schedule:
- December: Three beaches - Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Kalaloch - would be open for digging on evening tides Dec. 21, 22 and 23. Mocrocks Beach would also be open for digging Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, but would be closed Dec. 23 to save a portion of its annual harvest allocation for future openings. Copalis Beach, where diggers harvested most of the beach's allocation in September, would remain closed. Copalis Beach extends from the Grays Harbor North Jetty to the Copalis River, and includes beaches near Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut and Ocean City.
- January: Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Kalaloch would again be open for a three-day dig, scheduled Jan. 18, 19 and 20. Mocrocks would again open for two days - Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 - while Copalis Beach would remain closed.
No digging will be allowed at any beach before noon, and diggers must have a valid 2003-04 license to participate, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
Ayres said the dates for the proposed digs were chosen to take advantage of favorable tides and the fact that they coincide with school holidays - first Christmas, then Martin Luther King's birthday.
"We know that digging razor clams together is a tradition for a lot of families, and that was one factor in deciding on these dates," 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.
Final decisions about whether to move forward with the digging schedule will be announced shortly before the planned openings when the final marine toxin tests have been evaluated, Ayres said.
"Unfortunately, there's no way we can let people know sooner, because we can't dig the test clams more than a few days before the opening for the results to be valid," Ayres said. "The good news is that marine toxin counts have been holding at a fairly low level so far this year."
Low tides during the planned openings in December and January 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)
- Sunday, Jan. 18 - 3:40 p.m. (+0.2 feet)
- Monday, Jan. 19 - 4:38 p.m. (-0.3 feet)
- Tuesday, Jan. 20 - 5:31 p.m. (-0.7 feet)
Through mid-March, 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. As in years past, WDFW plans to offer morning clam digs in spring, when the lowest tides occur before noon, if non-tribal harvesters have not already taken the year's quota.
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 in coming months 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.
- 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.
- 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.