The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will not schedule any razor clam digs on ocean beaches in November due to elevated levels of marine toxins.
Tests show that domoic acid levels on Washington beaches remain above the threshold (20 parts per million) set by state public health officials, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.
"We can't open the beaches for digging until toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat," Ayres said. "Based on the latest results, we won't be able to do that until mid-December at the earliest."
Beaches in Washington with razor clam fisheries include: Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point. Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor. Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas. Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips. Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown's Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park. (This beach is closed to harvest until further notice).
All razor clam beaches have remained closed to digging since last spring when toxin levels increased significantly. WDFW will continue to work with the Washington Department of Health to monitor regularly marine toxin levels in razor clams, Ayres said. Test results are posted on WDFW's webpage athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html.
Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.
Since 1991, when the toxin was first detected on the Pacific coast, outbreaks of domoic acid have prompted the cancellation of three entire razor clam seasons in Washington - the last one in 2002-03.