Razor clam season along Clatsop County beaches delayed

NEWPORT, Ore. — ODFW will delay the opening of fall razor clam harvest along the Clatsop beaches from the traditional date of Oct. 1 to Nov. 1 at the earliest, to allow time to collect public feedback on management options in light of a recent stock assessment

Extension of the annual conservation closure only applies to Clatsop County beaches, and prohibits all harvest of razor clams (both recreational and commercial) along the 18 mile stretch of beach from Tillamook Head (Seaside) to the mouth of the Columbia River, until the closure is lifted.

ODFW recently completed the annual stock assessment survey for razor clams along the Clatsop beaches. The survey found that most clams are too small to be harvested by commercial clammers or desired by recreational clammers.

“Razor clams are moderately abundant on Clatsop beaches this fall, but the population is currently dominated by small clams with shell lengths between 2-3 inches,” said ODFW Shellfish Biologist Matt Hunter. “Recreational clammers typically try to avoid these small clams, and they are smaller than the 3 ¾” minimum size allowed for commercial harvest.”

According to Hunter, domination of the razor clam population by small clams is far from normal. “In 2004, we also saw large numbers of small razor clams along Clatsop beaches, but they were more variable in size with a few medium and large clams,” he explained. “Right now, it is difficult to find any razor clams larger than 4 inches.”

During the month of October, ODFW staff will hold a public meeting to solicit feedback regarding potential management actions that may be taken to protect undersize clams and provide better clamming opportunities next spring. Options include extending the closure through the winter to give clams time to grow into a size suitable for harvest.

Recently, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife delayed the traditional October razor clam digs on the Long Beach peninsula until late December due to similar concerns about the population and small size of clams. In Oregon, the population includes even fewer medium and large razor clams.

Most beaches along the Oregon coast are currently open for razor clamming. However, the south coast from the south jetty Umpqua River to the California border remains closed to razor clamming due to elevated marine biotoxins. Harvest of razor clams may be postponed at anytime due to elevated domoic acid or other marine biotoxins.

Bay clams and crab remain open for recreational harvesting along the entire Oregon coast. Mussels are open for recreational harvest along most of the Oregon coast, but harvest of mussels is closed from the south jetty of the Coquille River to the California border. For more information please call ODA’s shellfish safety information Hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures webpage or ODFW’s Recreation Report – Crabbing and Clamming page.