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Updates on Crabbing, Clamming from Washington, Oregon Coast

Published 08/09/20 at 5:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Updates on Crabbing, Clamming from Washington, Oregon Coast

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(Portland, Oregon) – For those who love crabbing and clamming along either the Washington coast or the Oregon coast, there’s mostly good news. An area between Washington and British Columbia will open up to crabbing a little bit later, while the southern Oregon coast resumes razor clamming. (Crabbing photo above courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced the opening of south coast beaches for recreational razor clamming. Recent razor clam results indicate the marine biotoxin domoic acid has dropped below the closure limit. Razor clamming is now open from Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) to the California border.

Razor clamming remains closed on the Clatsop Beaches, between the Columbia River and Tillamook Head, for the annual ODFW razor clam conservation closure. This conservation closure is to protect newly-set young clams. The closure is not because of biotoxins. The earliest the Clatsop Beaches could re-open is Oct. 1.

Nonresidents are reminded that recreational clamming and mussel harvesting remain closed coastwide as part of Covid-19 precautions. Recreational crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the coast, but remains closed to nonresidents in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon and in the Columbia River.


For more information, call ODA's shellfish biotoxin hotline at (800) 448-2474, the Food Safety Division at (503) 986-4720, or visit the ODA shellfish biotoxin closures webpage.

While just about all of the Washington coastline facing the Pacific is open to crabbing, the Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia) will open a week later than previously scheduled to allow additional time for crab shell conditions to improve.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said the area was originally scheduled to open Aug. 13 but will now open Aug. 20.

Test fisheries are conducted annually to ensure that fisheries avoid opening before crab shells have had sufficient time to harden. Crab are extremely vulnerable during the soft-shell stage following a molt.

A recent test fishery in Marine Area 7 North indicated that nearly 40 percent of crab there were still below the criteria designed to protect crab, said Don Velasquez, a WDFW crustacean biologist. Soft-shelled crab are subject to high mortality rates associated with handling and other fisheries interactions, Velasquez said.

As a result, state and tribal co-managers agreed to delay planned commercial and recreational fisheries to allow additional time for crab to harden.

Historically, at least 80 percent of crab have hardened in the Strait of Georgia by mid-August, which is already later than other parts of Puget Sound.

“It’s unusual for so many crab to remain soft so late into the summer, but this delay should reduce potential impacts to vulnerable crab,” Velasquez said.

To offset lost opportunity from the delay, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week beginning Sept. 24 in both Marine Area 7 South and Marine Area 7 North. The switch to a seven-days-per-week fishery in these areas usually begins during the first week of October.

Other marine areas with winter crab seasons opening Oct. 1 will be announced at a later date.

Find additional information about Washington’s crab seasons, areas, and regulations on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

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