Coastal bounty Early indications are the upcoming razor clam season should be similar to the 2012-13 season, which happened to be the best in the past 15 years. This year’s season will get an early start with the dig at Twin Harbors Beach Thursday through Sept. 23.
Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said tests done during the summer indicate another year of strong razor clam populations and digging opportunities.
“The tests show an even higher density of razor clams on most beaches than last year, when diggers enjoyed a banner season,” Ayres said. “That will translate into more days of digging at popular beaches such as Long Beach and Twin Harbors, so long as we don’t have any marine toxin issues.”
Summer assessments show the average density, the number of clams per square meter, is up at every beach compared to the 2012-13 season. Mocrocks, for example, has an average density of 5.47 clams per square meter, up from 2.78 in 2012-13.
During the 2012-13 season, diggers harvested 6.1 million razor clams, the highest number in 15 years. The more than 417,000 diggers who took part last season averaged 14.5 clams per day, just shy of the 15-clam-per-person legal limit.
“It was a great season because we had such strong populations to harvest from,” Ayres said of 2012-13. “We knew going in it was looking good and that really turned out to be true.”
That came after a dismal 2011-12 season which saw the lowest harvest and effort in the last 12 years. Diggers that season ended up with a total of 2.5 million clams harvested in 195,000 digger trips. Ayres attributed the decline that season to the natural cycle of clam populations.
The one beach area that remains a concern is Kalaloch, which has been closed the last two seasons because of low clam populations since 2009. Clam densities there are just .76 clams per square meter, up slightly from .66 in 2012-13.
The state razor clam season is vital to the economies of several small coastal communities, according to a study conducted by the University of Washington. Last year’s season generated approximately $37 million in economic benefits, based on the model used in the study.
To learn more
Overview: A look at this year’s stock assessment is posted on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/seasons_set.html.
Meeting: Dan Ayres, state coastal shellfish manager, will present an update on coastal razor clam stocks and discuss options for structuring this year’s season at a public meeting Thursday. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the City of Long Beach Depot, 102 Third St. NW.
Comment: The department will accept written comments on the stock assessment and possible digging options. They may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org through Sept. 30. Clam populations by beach
2013-14 population: 7,387,752, up from 5,356,383 last season
2013-14 total allowable catch: 2,881,223, up from 1,606,915 last season
Average density: 1.03 clams per square meter, up from 0.75 in 2012
Average clam size: 4.4 inches, up from 3.99 inches in 2012
Best areas: The populations get better the farther north you go on the peninsula, including Ocean Park and Oysterville.
2013-14 population: 5,744,411, up from 4,704,458
2013-14 total allowable catch: 2,297,764, up from 1,411,337
Average density: 3.15 clams per square meter, up from 2.58
Average clam size: 4.4 inches, up from 3.9 inches
Best areas: The North Cove, County Line and Grayland areas.
2013-14 population: 7,472,919, up from 7,151,264
2013-14 total allowable catch (state’s share): 1,120,938, up from 1,072,690
Average density: 2.22 clams per square meter, up from 2.12 in 2012
Average clam size: 4.4 inches, up from 4 inches in 2012
Best areas: From Ocean Shores to Ocean City, and the Copalis area
2013-14 population: 11,935,249, up from 6,064,416
2013-14 total allowable catch (state’s share): 1,790,287, up from 909,667
Average density: 5.47 clams per square meter, up from 2.78
Average clam size: 4.2 inches, up from 4.1 inches in 2012
Best areas: Ayres describes this area as “razor clam central.” The 2013 population assessment is nearly double last year’s 6.06 million. Roosevelt Beach, Copalis Beach and Pacific Beach all have high densities.
2013-14 population: 1,033,286, up from 894,041
2013-14 total allowable catch (state’s share): 131,227, up from 113,543
Average density: 0.76 clams per square meter, up from 0.66
Average clam size: 3.7 inches, up from 3.5 inches in 2012
Best areas: The possibility of digs occurring here will be determined in talks with the National Park Service and Olympic National Park staffers.Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 email@example.com thenewstribune.com/outdoors