NEWPORT – It’s the classic good news-bad news scenario: the good news is that you can dig razor clams on Clatsop beaches again and there are lots of clams; the bad news is they will be small.
Wednesday, Oct. 1, razor clam diggers may return to the Clatsop beaches after the annual conservation closure, which lasts from July 15 to Sept. 30 each year to protect newly-set clams. Shellfish biologists worry that diggers may be disappointed in the size of what they find when they return to the most productive razor clam beaches in the state.
“The clams are as small as I’ve ever seen them this time of year because of a late set, probably as a result of the massive storm systems we had this winter,” said Matthew Hunter, ODFW’s Shellfish and Estuary Project Leader. “During our summer clam surveys the average size was just under 3 inches. That’s not very big.”
On a recent collection dig to test for shellfish toxins Hunter dug 20 clams and the largest one was 3.5 inches. While clams this small are just as good to eat as larger clams, many diggers consider them less desirable because there is not as much meat and the shells are even more fragile than a larger razor clam. The smaller clams can also be more difficult to clean.
“You must keep the first 15 clams you dig, regardless of their size or condition,” Hunter said. “Reburying a razor clam, even if its shell is unbroken, usually results in the clam’s death.”
ODFW reminds clam diggers to help ensure clamming opportunities in the future by following these clam harvesting rules:
- The bag limit is the first 15 clams taken, regardless of size – small or broken clams must be included in the bag limit.
- All clam diggers, regardless of age, must dig their own clams, carry their own container to hold harvested clams, and may not possess more than one limit of clams in the clamming area.
- Clam diggers 14 years and older must have a shellfish license to harvest clams.
- Razor clams may be taken by hand, shovel or with a clam tube at least 4 inches in diameter.
Here are some hints to avoid small or broken clams:
- Look for siphon holes or “shows” that are dime-sized or larger to avoid small clams. Small shows, especially those smaller than the diameter of a pencil, are associated with small clams.
- If you dig several small clams, move to a different area.
- Broken or small clams are still edible. The cleaning process might take longer but they are still safe to eat.
For more information about razor clams, digging techniques, and preventing wastage check the ODFW razor clam website http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/razorclams.