Published: January 2012
Author(s): Bruce E. Kauffman
Fishery Objectives and Preseason Planning
A public meeting was held in late March 2011 for commercial diggers and razor clam buyers at Raymond High School. The major discussion topic was when to schedule the 2011 fishery and the duration of the season.
At the meeting WDFW announced that that the fishery would be allowed a full eight week season with the starting date to be determined later. WDFW proposed opening the season for eight weeks immediately after the recreational razor clam fishery closed (which was expected to end on May 3rd). As in years past, some fishers expressed the desire to begin fishing for a week in mid-April on tides not allocated to the coastal recreational razor clam fishery. Others supported a later start in mid-May which would allow for harvest when the weather is generally better. After polling the audience the majority supported opening the season in early May as soon as the recreational season was scheduled to end.
Three factors largely determine the start date of the commercial razor clam fishery: the end of the recreational razor clam season, biotoxin levels, and tides. By practice, the commercial fishery opens only after the end of the recreational fishery. Separating the two fisheries makes it more difficult for sport diggers to illegally dig, possess or sell commercial quantities of clams, and simplifies recovering clams in the event of a Washington Department of Health (WDOH) product recall. In addition, because the Willapa Spits are legally open to sport harvest when ever Long Beach is open, keeping the fisheries separate prevents a potential influx of sport harvesters on the spits while a commercial fishery is underway. Due to the absence of any significant biotoxin events, the last being in 2005, the commercial fishery has experienced predictable and stable season schedules.
Regulations for the commercial razor clam fishery allow digging only on â€�"detachedâ€ (i.e. islands) spits. In recent years, shifting sand has filled in a channel of water that had separated the spits from the north end of Leadbetter Point. At low tide the southernmost spit and the northern end of Leadbetter Point essentially became continuous, and could be easily crossed. For the last five seasons boundary poles have been installed at the north end of Leadbetter Point to provide a clear delineation between it and the spits. Boundary posts were installed again in 2011 to eliminate any uncertainty.