Westport area beaches added to razor clam digs

OLYMPIA – Westport area beaches south of Grays Harbor will open to razor clam digging, along with Copalis and Mocrocks beaches north of Grays Harbor when the fall season gets under way on Friday.

Shellfish managers gave the OK Tuesday on a six-day razor clam dig beginning Friday after marine toxin tests indicate clams there are safe to eat. Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife approved a three-day opening Friday through Sunday at Copalis and Mocrocks beaches.

The Washington Department of Health asked for an additional test on clams Monday at Westport because of a recent increase in toxin levels. However, tests conducted last week also found toxin levels at Westport met state health standards.

“This latest test shows toxin levels dropped over the weekend, allowing us to give the green light for digging at Twin Harbors (Westport),” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.

The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates and evening low tides:

• Oct. 14, Friday, 5:55 p.m.; 0.2 feet; Westport, Copalis, Mocrocks

• Oct. 15, Saturday, 6:42 p.m.; -0.6 feet; Westport, Copalis, Mocrocks

• Oct. 16, Sunday, 7:28 p.m.; -1.1 feet; Westport, Copalis, Mocrocks

• Oct. 17, Monday, 8:16 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Westport

• Oct. 18, Tuesday, 9:04 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Westport

• Oct. 19, Wednesday, 9:55 p.m.; -1.1 feet; Westport

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2016-17 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available from license vendors around the state and WDFW’s licensing customer service number at (360) 902-2464.

Ayres noted that Long Beach remains closed to razor clam digging. Tests there indicate domoic acid levels still exceed the amount deemed under state public health standards.

Last year, elevated levels of domoic acid forced state shellfish manager to cut short the spring razor clam season and delay the opening in fall. All ocean beaches in Oregon have been closed to razor clam digging since last month due to high levels of domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae.

WDFW will continue to monitor toxin levels on all Washington beaches. A list of tentative razor clam digs through Dec. 31, 2016, can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Meanwhile, DOH issued an interim health advisory recommending that people who eat large amounts of razor clams year-round reduce their consumption.

A new study into health effects of long-term exposure to low levels of domoic acid in razor clams shows that people who eat more than 15 clams a month year round may experience memory problems.

For more information, visit DOH’s webpage at http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/BiotoxinsIllnessPrevention/Biotoxins/DomoicAcidinRazorClams.