NEWPORT – More than four decades after the first conservation closure, some clam diggers still show up in late July to dig razor clams on the Clatsop beaches.
Since 1967 the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife close the 18 miles of beaches in Clatsop County to razor clam digging on July 15. The closure is to protect newly-set young clams that are establishing themselves on the beach during this time of the year.
“It has been a consistent problem for the past… well since I started this job in 2001,” said Matthew Hunter, ODFW’s Shellfish and Estuary Project Leader. “Usually the first tide series or two after the closure we will see people who don’t understand why there isn’t anyone else harvesting clams. I know OSP (Oregon State Police) has pretty much found they are guaranteed to write tickets for illegal harvest every low-tide series during the closure.”
The regulation closing Clatsop beaches has been in place since 1967. For many years the closure went from July 15 to Aug. 31. It was extended in 1997 to Sept. 30.
“It’s been in place long enough so there is no reason anyone should claim ignorance,” Hunter said.
This period is a busy one for ODFW shellfish biologists who conduct razor clam stock assessments to determine the health of the population.
Digging for razor clams continues to be open on other state beaches and harvesting bay clams is open as well. The Clatsop beaches are the most productive razor clam beaches in the state, accounting for more than 90 percent of the total harvest.