Toxin levels still to high to allow razor clam beaches to open – The Daily World

Continued high levels of marine toxins will keep razor clam digs on hold for at least another two weeks.

No future razor clam dates will be announced until domoic acid levels in razor clams drop below the action level, read an update from Fish and Wildlife Wednesday. We have no projections of when that might be.

The season has been spotty at best, despite high populations of harvestable clams, due at first to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings. There were a couple of digs in February and March 2020, with good results, but in May the state shut down all razor clam digging due to the pandemic and the concerns of local jurisdictions along the beaches about the crowds razor clam digs always attract.

In August, state coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres said there were about 26 million harvestable clams estimated for the 2020-21 season, about double the previous seasons number. In September there was some digging allowed, and tentative dates were set for October, but those were canceled when the domoic acid levels crept above levels considered safe to eat. All December and January tentative dates were canceled.

Levels too high at all beaches

In clam meat tests on all the beaches from Long Beach north to Mocrocks, all are above the domoic acid action level for safe consumption 20 parts per million. Levels ranged from 22 parts per million at Long Beach to 49 on the north end of Copalis Beach.

Test digs and testing will continue every two weeks, according to Fish and Wildlife. Before a beach can be opened for the harvest of razor clams, protocol requires that all razor clam samples collected from that beach must test under the action level on both of two required sample collections, that must be spaced seven to 10 days apart.

As we reported earlier this month, razor clams are following the historical pattern of slowly depurating (losing) domoic acid, read the most recent Fish and Wildlife statement. We also are observing the levels bounce around some, as they have in past events.

The bounce around is a result the individual 12 clams harvested for sampling. The toxin load can vary greatly between individual clams. The laboratory protocol requires the clams to be cleaned and then the meat from all 12 per area are blended together. Then a sample of that mixture is analyzed and one result is reported for that area.

Information on razor clam beaches, regulations and seasons can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/razor-clams.

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Toxin levels still to high to allow razor clam beaches to open - The Daily World

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