Razor clam digs officially over for the season

There will be no more razor clam digs this season, Department of Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres said Wednesday.

“The last few days, we’ve been working with both Grays Harbor and Pacific counties regarding the possibility of allowing some razor clam harvest before the season ends,” said Ayres. “However, (Tuesday) the Governor’s Office told us that large razor clam crowds constitute a gathering under the Stay Home-Stay Healthy order.”

Monday, Pacific County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager and Grays Harbor County Health Officer Dr. John Bausher issued a joint letter to Fish and Wildlife indicating their support for a resumption of the recreational razor clam season on May 21, 26 and 28. According to Pacific County Emergency Operations Center public information officer Pat Matlock, Krager also issued, as part of his phased order, a specific order that allowed the season to resume with agreement from Fish and Wildlife.

Matlock said a decision was made at the state level “that razor clam digs bring thousands of people to travel to the coastal counties from all over the state and constitute a gathering under the Stay Home—Stay Healthy order. This order has been extended to May 31, so razor clam digs and similar large gatherings are not allowed at this time.”

Ayres said the three digs tentatively scheduled for May 21, 26 and 28 will not happen, nor will the season be extended.

“So we are now focusing on what we expect will be a great 2020-21 season and will start the field work for our summer-long razor clam population assessments very soon,” said Ayres.

The state called off a planned March 20 dig back on March 19, after Krager expressed concerns about large crowds coming to the area in the early stages of the state’s lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. After Fish and Wildlife consultation with county officials and health officers in both Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, that dig was canceled.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife, county health and elected officials and state health officials officially announced a halt to the razor clam season April 6. At the time, Fish and Wildlife Coastal Region Director Larry Phillips said, “We had an excellent season planned, with a great number of days available for razor clam digging. If we are not able to reopen, clam diggers can still look forward to larger clams next year.”