04/01/2016 – J. W. Snyder – Northwest Fishing News
OLYMPIA – State shellfish managers today approved 10 days of razor clam digging beginning Sunday on three ocean beaches.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the digs after marine toxin tests showed the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.
Diggers should be aware that the opening switches from evening to morning tides beginning April 7, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
Ayres also noted that razor clam diggers age 15 or older need to have a 2016-17 fishing license to participate in the upcoming dig, since the new license year begins April 1. New licenses are available online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/) and from license dealers throughout the state.
The upcoming dig is scheduled on the following dates, beaches, and low tides:
- April 3, Sunday, 4:13 p.m.; 0.5 feet; Long Beach
- April 4, Monday, 5:04 p.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach
- April 5, Tuesday, 5:51 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
- April 6, Wednesday, 6:36 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
- April 7, Thursday, 7:07 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
- April 8, Friday, 7:54 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
- April 9, Saturday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Copalis
- April 10, Sunday, 9:32 a.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
- April 11, Monday, 10:23 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach
- April 12, Tuesday, 11:19 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach
Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
The dig coincides with the annual Long Beach razor clam festival, scheduled April 9 and 10, Ayres said. Digging at Long Beach will be limited only to the days listed. The beach had been open daily in February and March.
“After a late start to the season, we have tried to provide as much digging as possible while still conserving our razor clam populations,” Ayres said.
WDFW delayed the razor clam season due to elevated levels of domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae. Toxin levels at Twin Harbors Beach remain above the threshold (20 parts per million) set by public health officials. The beach is closed to razor clam digging.
“Razor clams at Twin Harbors had the highest levels of domoic acid during the peak of the harmful algae bloom in 2015,” Ayres said. “It is taking longer for clams there to rid themselves of the toxin.”
It’s uncertain whether Twin Harbors will open this spring for razor clam digging, Ayres said. WDFW continues to monitor toxin levels on all Washington beaches and will announce openings on the department’s razor clam webpage athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/
A list of proposed razor clam digs, beginning April 20, also can be found on the webpage.
During all upcoming digs, state wildlife managers urge clam diggers to avoid disturbing snowy plovers and streaked horned larks by observing posted vehicle speed limits and avoiding nest sites. Both species nest in the soft, dry sand at Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula.
The snowy plover is a small bird with gray wings and a white breast. The lark is a small bird with a pale yellow breast and brown back. Male larks have a black mask, breast band and “horns.” Both species are listed as “endangered” in the state and as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.