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Razor Clamming Alert Lifted for Part of Oregon Coast - Mussels, Bay Clamming Unsafe

Published 6/15/24 at 6:45 a.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Oregon Coast) – Oregon wildlife and health officials reopened much of the Oregon coast to razor clamming and gathering oysters after tests showed levels of the biotoxin Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) back down below alert levels. (Above: Yachats' "tunnel" beach access where razor clamming is now open / Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Razor clamming is once again safe from Yachats up to the Washington coast border, and commercial oyster harvesting is again open in Netarts and Tillamook Bays. The announcement was made Friday by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), saying two consecutive tests indicated the levels of PSP were again down, after the entirety of the coastline – including Washington – was shut down to shellfish harvesting in recent weeks.

That leaves Newport, Waldport, Lincoln City, Pacific City, Oceanside, Rockaway Beach, Manzanita, Cannon Beach and Seaside back open to razor clams. The area from Seaside northward holds the most numbers of clams in the entire state.

Mussel gathering is still unsafe on the coastline.

Razor clamming remains closed from Yachats down through the California border, however, still because of PSP. That means for safety reasons you cannot get razor clams from beaches and bays around Florence, Reedsport, Coos Bay, Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach or Brookings. ODFW and ODA continue to find PSP and the biotoxin domoic acid in those test samples.

On June 6, the entire razor clam fishery was closed from Yachats to the edges of the Oregon coast out of precaution, as PSP was hitting other areas so hard. More than 21 people got seriously sick from mussels taken from around Oceanside, and officials were not taking chances with the rest of the north coast.

“While testing showed this area under the closure threshold for razors, the agencies agreed to close harvest out of an abundance of caution since PSP levels had elevated very rapidly and were very high in other shellfish species,” ODFW said. “With today’s test results, this area reopened.”

This only leaves some areas and two species of shellfish in the clear. ODFW said closures are still in effect because of biotoxins and extreme caution should be exercised:

All bay clamming is still shut down along the Oregon coast: “All mussel harvesting remains closed coastwide for elevated levels of PSP.”

Crabbing remains OK along the entire Oregon coast, ODFW said.

Courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Along the Washington coast, most shellfish gathering remains closed.

Still closed are: “public beaches in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor that are normally open year-round for clam, oyster, and mussel harvest under the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)’s shellfish management. The closure does not affect crabs or shrimp.”

ODFW said this PSP is a naturally-ocurring biotoxin, created by some species of microscopic algae.

“Oregon has seen historic high levels of PSP since late May, leading to multiple closures in several shellfish species since May 23. Watch ODFW’s Q&A with ODA and Oregon Health Authority for more information on PSP, shellfish poisoning symptoms, and shellfish testing.”

For more information call ODA's shellfish biotoxin hotline at (800) 448-2474, the ODA Food Safety Program at (503) 986-4720, or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures Webpage.

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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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