OLYMPIA - The fall razor-clam season will get under way Oct. 14-16 at four coastal beaches if test results indicate the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Provided that test results are favorable, the department will proceed with plans for a three-day dig on evening tides at Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis and Twin Harbors, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
Kalaloch Beach, the state's other razor-clam beach, will likely remain closed to digging in October, because levels of domoic acid absorbed by area clams after an algal bloom in July remain well above state health standards.
WDFW will announce final plans for the first razor-clam dig of the season by Oct. 13, when test results for all five beaches will be available, Ayres said.
"Fortunately, we haven't seen elevated toxin levels in razor clams at the other four beaches," Ayres said. "As in previous years, we plan to keep testing all areas, and hope to be able to open Kalaloch Beach in the near future."
In addition to the scheduled season opener in mid-October, WDFW announced tentative evening digs Nov. 11-13 and Dec. 10-12 at Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis and Twin Harbors, contingent on the results of future marine toxin tests and estimated harvest levels.
As with the season opener, no digging will be allowed at any beach before noon on any of those days.
Ayres said that the tentative digging schedule announced today reflects comments received from citizens who wrote to WDFW or attended one of the four public meetings held by the department over the last month to solicit scheduling ideas.
A fifth and final public meeting is scheduled Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. in Forks, where the Kalaloch razor-clam fishery is likely to be a key topic.
"Obviously we can't please everyone, but we do make a real effort to structure these seasons in ways that work best for most clam diggers and coastal communities," Ayres said. "The tides pretty much dictate that we hold fall clam digs during afternoon and evening hours, but we always try to provide some daytime digging in the spring."
Those interested in harvesting razor clams are reminded that a license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2004 annual shellfish/seaweed license purchased last spring is still valid.
One new option is a "razor clam only" license now available in both annual and 3-day versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW web site at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.