Category: Commercial Fishing / Shellfishing
Published: February 2015
Fishery Objectives and Preseason Planning
The public meeting usually scheduled in late March with the commercial harvesters to discuss pertinent information for the upcoming season, was not held in 2014. Two key issues (the season opening date/duration and the status of the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Right of Entry Agreements (ROE)) were already resolved. The fishery would open on May 1, 2014 (pending biotoxin results) and would run just over 8 weeks, ending on July 2, 2014. In addition DNR had determined that there would be no changes to the ROE permit, fees or requirements for the 2014 season.
Unfortunately, after announcing that there would be no public meeting, DOH informed WDFW that they were changing how the certification of razor clams on the detached spits was conducted. Since 1995 diggers registered with companies to dig and their names were forwarded to DOH and WDFW licensing. Diggers were allowed to be registered with two companies. That registration served as the DOH certification for the digger and as long as the digger dug for the company he was signed up with there was no need for certification tags. In 2013 we had an influx of new buyers who purchased clams from diggers they were not registered with. For the 2014 season DOH decided that the status quo regarding certification tags would no longer apply and that henceforth all diggers would be required to obtain certification tags from the buyers prior to digging. Furthermore, all containers of razor clams would be required to be tagged at the time of harvest regardless of registration status or they would be subject to confiscation. Had this information been relayed to WDFW in a timelier fashion we would have deemed this an important enough change to hold a meeting.
In lieu of a formal meeting, a mass mailing was sent out on March 19th to all diggers who were licensed in 2013 informing them that there would not be a public meeting that year. The letter discussed:
1) The season opening date. The season would open (pending biotoxin tests) on May 1 and would end on July 2.
2) DNR ROE requirements. Unchanged from those in 2013.
3) DOH certification requirements. DOH requires all containers of clams to be tagged at the time of harvest with certification tags.
4) Digging on Ledbetter Point. Not allowed this year due to changes in beach configuration. There were not enough exposed tidelands to warrant opening this area.