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Razor Clams on Washington Coast Canceled At Least Through Dec

Published 11/09/20 at 4:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Razor Clams on Washington Coast Canceled At Least Through Dec

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(Moclips, Washington) – Domoic acid has again caused more cancellations of razor clam digs along the Washington coast, ditching the upcoming scheduled November 13 – 19 clam events. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said this ends all razor clam harvesting at least until December, after test results at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Kalaloch and Copalis indicate levels of domoic acid that exceed the threshold (20 parts per million (ppm)) set by state public health officials for safe consumption. (Photo above courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

“Concentrations of domoic acid have increased rapidly beyond safe consumption thresholds set by the Washington Department of Health (DOH),” said Larry Phillips, coastal region director with the WDFW. “It is entirely possible that we will see higher than safe levels, even into December. We understand how important razor clam digging opportunities are to coastal communities and citizens of Washington, and we will continue to work with our partners to reopen as soon as possible.”

Domoic acid is a naturally-occurring toxin that is created by some kinds of marine algae. Consuming shellfish with the toxin can be harmful and even fatal if enough quantities are eaten. More information about domoic acid, as well as current levels at ocean beaches, can be found on WDFW's domoic acid webpage.

WDFW managers will await additional test results from DOH prior to announcing additional digging opportunities.

The close concentration of clam diggers on the coast also has Washington state officials concerned about the spread of COVID-19 among participants, as there has been near-record numbers of them. This has resulted in the closure of all razor clam harvesting throughout the state, including on Mocrocks Beach, where domoic acid levels have risen to at least 11 ppm and may have risen to unsafe levels since the latest test by DOH.

Razor clam diggers along the Washington coast have enjoyed more than 80,000 trips and harvested nearly 1.2 million clams in 2020, but the department won’t be able to announce if tentatively scheduled December digs can move forward until marine toxin test results are conducted by DOH in mid-November.

Meanwhile, public health officials continue to monitor COVID-19 numbers throughout the digging season, and WDFW will rely on their guidance when making in-season adjustments to the schedule if necessary to reduce public health risks.

All recreational razor clam harvesting has been stopped on the entire upper half of the Oregon coast, leaving the area from the south side of Florence down to Brookings the only area open to the activity (which includes Winchester Bay, Coos Bay, Bandon, Gold Beach and Brookings)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities. The agency works closely with DOH, which monitors marine toxin levels in shellfish.

Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email ([email protected]). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.

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