Toxic Clam Alert

This just in from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

RECREATIONAL RAZOR CLAM UPDATE: No future razor clam dates will be announced until domoic acid levels in razor clams drop below the action level. We have no projections of when that might be. However, we do know that in three of the four major domoic acid events that occurred in the fall (1991-92, 1997-98 and 2002-03),  domoic acid levels in razor clams remained evaluated through the end of the season.

We will continue to test every two weeks. To see previous results, see the web link below.


Listed below are the most recent marine toxin levels, as announced by the Washington Department of Health (WDOH).

Recall, before a beach can be opened for the harvest of razor clams, WDOH protocol requires that all razor clam samples collected from that beach must test under the action level (20 ppm for domoic acid; 80 µg/100g for PSP; and 16 µg/100g for DSP) on both of two required sample collections, that must be spaced 7 to 10 days apart.

Note that in all these samples; only razor clam meat tissue is tested.

These samples were all collected on 02/08/2021.

Long Beach Area E (north):

·                     domoic acid =   56 ppm

·                     PSP = none detected

·                     DSP = none detected

Twin Harbors Area CL (middle):

·                     domoic acid =   49 ppm

·                     PSP = none detected

·                     DSP = none detected

Copalis Area K (south)

·                     domoic acid =   50 ppm

·                     PSP = none detected

·                     DSP = none detected

Copalis Area XL (middle)

·                     domoic acid =   28 ppm

·                     PSP = none detected

·                     DSP = none detected

Copalis Area GS (north)

·                     domoic acid =   23 ppm

·                     PSP = none detected

·                     DSP = none detected

Mocrocks Area CP (middle)

·                     domoic acid =   19 ppm

·                     PSP = none detected

·                     DSP = none detected

Mocrocks Area MP (north)

•              domoic acid =   34 ppm

•              PSP = none detected

•              DSP = none detected

The story remains the same, razor clams are following the historical pattern of slowly depurating (losing) domoic acid. We also are observing the levels “bounce around” considerably, as they have in past events. This is a result the individual 12 clams we harvest when we are collecting samples. 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.  If you are interested, you can check out the historical domoic acid data at the link below.

These results and the historical record of domoic acid events can be found at:  (click on “show historical data”) and then hover your curser over the data points for more detail).

Along with sampling collecting razor clam every two week, WDFW together with our colleagues in the ORHAB (Olympic Region Harmful Algal Bloom) partnership continue on-going observations of the surf zone phytoplankton assemblages. 

with our colleagues in the ORHAB (Olympic Region Harmful Algal Bloom) partnership continue on-going observations of the surf zone phytoplankton assemblages. 


3 thoughts on “Toxic Clam Alert

  1. Alot of fishermen are calling it a conspiracy and I’m starting to ve inclined to believe them. I just seen the signed order allowing washington caught crab to be processed in Oregon essentially giving the commercial industry the green light, but nothing about recreational crabbing when we already know the domoic acid doesn’t penetrate into the crab meat at levels to be considered toxic for consumption. And why would certain waters be closed but just across the Columbia their waters be open? Why is wildlife fish and game depth. so sluggish to give a recent public update? Never have we had a domoic event last even close to this long and I’m calling bullshit.


    1. We asked WDFW to comment and here is what they sent from a “social media” post:

      WDFW Feb. 12, 2021. Great news for our coastal communities. After a lot of scrambling and
      hard work with community partners, we are pleased to announce the opening of the
      commercial crab fishery along the Washington coast.
      But it didn’t just happen.
      Crab fishers brave difficult conditions to put delicious and healthy seafood on the market,
      typically beginning in mid-December. But this year, the upwards of $40 million annual coastal
      commercial Dungeness crab fishery was delayed for about two months due to concern for
      marine toxins.
      WDFW shellfish managers worked with our colleagues at Washington Department of Health,
      our Coastal Dungeness Crab Advisory Board, WDFW Police and the commercial crabbing
      community, among others. It took a lot of coordination to ensure a safe, highly monitored
      fishery in a time of increased concern for marine toxins. The result is an opening where
      evisceration protocols and commercial fishing vessel registration ensures that crab that comes
      to market is as wholesome and safe as in years without marine toxin concerns. This opening
      means we have also been able to avoid further delay into the spring and higher risks of
      entanglement with endangered humpback and gray whales.
      The fishery will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16. With Dept. of Health advice and targeted

      evisceration protocols in place, coastal fleets are finalizing preparations for a 73-hour gear pre-
      set period starting 8 a.m. tomorrow.

      The Department of Health is not currently recommending opening sport crabbing due to
      continued presence of domoic acid in crab viscera and the impossibility of replicating the safety
      protocols the commercial fishery will operate under. As a result, DOH continues to recommend
      that the recreational fishery remain closed.…/coastal-commercial-dungene…/
      Experience Westport Washington Crab Producers Pike Place Market Pike Place Fish Market We
      Fish West Coast Seafood West Coast Seafood Processors Association Northwest Fisheries
      Association Westport’s Fresh Catch Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations


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