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September 11, 2015
Contact: Dan Ayres, (360) 249-4628

WDFW seeks comments on razor clam season;
marine toxins cast uncertainty on opening dig

OLYMPIA – State shellfish managers are seeking public input on management options for the 2015-16 razor clam season, although the season is on hold until marine toxins drop to safe levels. 

Levels of domoic acid in razor clams have declined over the summer but remain high enough that the clams are unsafe to eat, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Obviously we can’t open beaches to digging until toxin levels drop, but we want to be ready to go when they do,” Ayres said. “That preparation includes hearing from the public suggestions about the upcoming season.”

The public can comment on an array of management options for the scheduling of digs over the course of the season. Suggestions for the 2015-16 season can be sent via email to razorclams@dfw.wa.gov or by postal service to: Razor Clams, 48 Devonshire Rd., Montesano, WA 98563. Comments regarding fall digging opportunities must be received by Sept. 30.

An overview of the recently completed 2015-16 razor clam stock assessment and a look back at last season are available on WDFW’s razor clam webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/seasons_set.html.

During the 2014-15 season, diggers harvested 5.7 million razor clams and averaged 14.4 clams per day, just shy of the 15-clam limit.

This season, razor clam populations on Washington’s beaches are estimated to be slightly lower than last year, but still above the long-term average, Ayres said. If marine toxin levels decline in time, the earliest dig would likely take place in mid- to late-October.

WDFW will continue to monitor regularly marine toxin levels in razor clams, Ayres said. Test results are posted on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html.

The department curtailed digs last spring when concentrations of domoic acid exceeded the threshold set by state public health officials. Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.