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Bay Clamming Reopens on All Oregon Coast, Some Mussels - After Severe Biotoxins Issues

Published 7/06/24 at 7:35 p.m.
By Andre' GW Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Oregon Coast) – A rather harrowing chapter in Oregon's shellfish gathering history seems to be ending, as bay clamming is back open along the entire coastline after a wave of biotoxins shut it down along with other kinds of recreational shellfish. Mussels are also back open on a part of the south coast. (Newport's Yaquina Bay - Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Back in May, over 21 people got quite ill from consuming mussels that were affected by the marine biotoxin paralytic shellfish poison (PSP). This and the presence of domoic acid in some species caused the shore-wide closure of all recreational clamming and snagging mussels. Since mid-June, it's slowly been reopening.

Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced this week that bay clamming has reopened from Coos Bay's north jetty to the California border, after the rest of the Oregon coast got the green light for bay clamming in recent weeks.

“Two consecutive tests showed biotoxin levels below the closure limit in these areas,” ODFW said.

This means all bay areas of the region such as Newport, Bandon, Gold Beach, Waldport, Nehalem, Netarts, Lincoln City and others are back open for the tasty little morsel.


Tillamook Bay / Oregon Coast Beach Connection

However, aside from Coos Bay southward, all mussel harvesting remains closed because of the PSP biotoxin that started it all. That means do not grab mussels from areas like Reedport, Florence, Yachats, Newport, Lincoln City, Oceanside and Cannon Beach northward. The entire upper half of the coast as well as the areas from Coos Bay northward are still showing issues.

Razor clamming is still open for most areas, but not all.

“Razor clamming remains closed from Yachats to Coos Bay for high levels of PSP and domoic acid,” ODFW said.

Meanwhile, on the Washington coast, those biotoxin closures are still in effect in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, although beach shellfish gathering is simply not in season at this time.

Current harvest closures and openings:

Bay clams:

Open along the entire Oregon coast.

Mussels:

Open from Coos Bay north jetty to the California border.

Closed from Coos Bay north jetty to the Washington border.

Razor clams:

Open from Washington border to Yachats River.

Closed from Yachats River to Coos Bay north jetty.

Open from Coos Bay north jetty to California border.

Reminder: Clatsop beaches’ annual conservation closure begins July 15. Oregon Coast Experts: Take Advantage of Minus Tides This Week Before Seaside's Razor Clam Closure - Annual conservation closure begins at 12:01 a.m. July 15

ODA will continue testing for shellfish toxins at least twice per month, as tides and weather permit. Reopening an area closed for biotoxins requires two consecutive tests with results below the closure limit.

Remember to always call Oregon Department of Agriculture's (ODA) shellfish biotoxin safety hotline at (800) 448-2474, the Food Safety Shellfish Desk at (503) 986-4726, or check the ODA recreational shellfish biotoxin closures webpage before clamming or crabbing.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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