Updated: Big News for Bivalve Hunters

Press Release from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife:

Recreational clam, mussel, and oyster fishery scheduled to open June 8 on most Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches

OLYMPIA – Most beaches in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca are scheduled to open for recreational clam, mussel, and oyster harvest on June 8, while other areas will open later in the summer as previously planned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Opening this year has taken longer than expected due to COVID-19 related challenges and public health considerations, said Camille Speck, Puget Sound intertidal bivalve manager for WDFW.

“It took a lot of coordination, but we are happy to have found a way to work with communities and access managers to provide harvest opportunity and the enjoyment that comes from a day out on the beach,” said Speck. “We are also happy to announce some season shifts and extensions on a number of beaches to help make up for  opportunity lost during the unprecedented coronavirus closures.”

The approved dates reflect a conscious effort to offer harvest while still abiding by public health recommendations, such as keeping participants distributed, allowing physical distancing, limiting travel and discouraging overnight stays, she added.

WDFW is asking for cooperation from shellfish harvesters to reduce risk. “Patience and courtesy will be needed at public access sites,” said Speck. Because some popular parks are operating with reduced staffing and may have limitations on parking, harvesters should check for current conditions at the park they intend to visit and adhere to health authorities’ advice for physical distancing.

Clam, mussel, and oyster harvesting seasons are beach specific in Puget Sound. Harvesters are encouraged to check current seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/shellfish-beaches. In addition, water quality conditions may change quickly. All harvesters should check the Department of Health status for the site they intend to harvest the same day they plan to harvest. Harvest seasons and current health advisories and closures are available via the state’s Shellfish Safety Map at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety.

2020 Puget Sound clam, mussel, and oyster season changes and extensions. The following reflect adjustments from original 2020 seasons to make up for opportunity lost during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy-related closure:

  • Ala Spit County Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open Aug. 1-31.
  • Belfair State Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open two weeks early on July 15 and remain open through Dec. 31.
  • Dosewallips State Park: opens June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clams and mussels close Sept. 30. Oysters remain open through December 31.
  • Eagle Creek: opens June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clam and mussel seasons are extended by two weeks to close on Sept. 15. Oysters remain open through Dec. 31.
  • Frye Cove County Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open Aug. 1-31.
  • Hope Island State Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open Aug. 1-31.
  • Point Whitney Tidelands and Point Whitney Lagoon: open June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clams and mussels close June 30. Oysters remain open through Aug. 31.
  • Port Gamble Heritage Park Tidelands: clams, mussels, and oysters open two weeks early on July 1 and remain open through December 31.
  • Potlatch State Park and Potlatch DNR: clams, mussels, and oysters open June 8 and seasons are extended for two months to remain open through Sept. 30.
  • Sequim Bay State Park: clams, mussels, and oysters open June 8 and are extended by two weeks to close on July 15.
  • Triton Cove Tidelands: opens June 8 for clam, mussel and oyster harvest. Clam and mussel seasons are extended by two weeks to close on Sept. 15. Oysters remain open through December 31.
  • Twanoh State Park: Clams and mussels OPEN August 15, 2020 through September 30, 2020 only. Oysters open June 8 through December 31.
  • Marine Area 4 remains closed until further notice.

All other public beaches revert to the original 2020 season rules, which vary by beach and are displayed on the WDFW website and the Department of Health shellfish safety map.

In all areas of Puget Sound, harvesters are limited to the daily bag limit of up to 40 clams, not to exceed 10 pounds in the shell, and 18 oysters per person, removed from the shell on the beach and shells left at the same approximate tide height where they were harvested. Shucked oyster shells provide critical habitat for young oysters.

A valid 2020-21 combination license, shellfish license, or Fish Washington license is required to participate in the fishery.

A two page copy of current clam, mussel, and oyster seasons may be printed from the link at the top of the website page wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/shellfish-beaches. A printable shellfish identification chart is also available in the same website location.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

Today’s announcement does not open additional razor clam digging days on the coast.

For the latest updates on WDFW’s response to the coronavirus, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates.

Razor Clam Update

[via email from Dan Ayres, Coastal Shellfish Manager, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife] Emphasis editor’s own.

There will be no additional razor clam harvest openings until sometime in the fall of 2020. Conflicting information in local media reports and on various social media platforms has created some level of confusion.

Coastal Shellfish Manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Region Six

The last few days,  WDFW has been working with both Grays Harbor County and Pacific County regarding the possibility of allowing some razor clam harvest before the season ends on May 31. However, yesterday the Governor’s Office informed WDFW that because large razor clam crowds constitute a gathering under the Stay Home—Stay Healthy order. This order has been extended to May 31st, so razor clam digs and similar large gatherings are not allowed at this time.

WDFW is now focusing on a what we expect will be a great 2020-21 season and will start the field work for our summer-long razor clam population assessments very soon.

In Case You Missed It….

A press release from WDFW.

Published on Apr 27, 2020

OLYMPIA –The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks) announced today they will reopen state-managed lands on Tuesday, May 5, for local day-use only recreation.

The reopening will apply to state-managed parks, wildlife areas, recreation land, and boat launches. However, it may take several days for gates to be unlocked and sites to be serviced at remote areas due to limited staff capacity.

Some parks may not open immediately due to impacts on rural communities and the potential for crowding. State Parks is working with local communities and its partners to determine the best approach and timing to reopening these areas.

Visitor centers, camping, and other overnight accommodations on state-managed lands will remain closed until further notice.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also plans to reopen their recreation lands on May 5 for day-use. [Note: as of May 13, camping remains closed. Check the link for specific regional openings & closures.]

State land managers recommend people come prepared and bring their own hand washing supplies, toilet paper, and personal protective equipment as some sites will have reduced or limited restroom facilities. People should also be prepared to change plans if their destination appears crowded or is not yet fully operational.  

If sites become overcrowded or other COVID-19 related public safety concerns develop, state agencies may close areas with limited notice to further protect public health and safety. Certain restrictions around specific activities may also apply. 

The public can find the latest information about WDFW and Parks operations at:

  

Guidelines to recreate responsibly during COVID-19 public health crisis

Before you go 

  • Check what’s open. While many state-managed land destinations are open for day-use, other local, tribal, and federal land may still be closed. 
  • Opt for day trips close to home. Overnight stays are not permitted.
  • Stay with immediate household members only. Recreation with those outside of your household creates new avenues for virus transmission.
  • Come prepared. Visitors may find reduced or limited restroom services as staff begin the process to reopen facilities at wildlife areas and water access sites.  You are advised to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper, as well as a mask or bandana to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Enjoy the outdoors when healthy. If you have symptoms of fever, coughing, or shortness of breath, save your outdoor adventure for another day.  

When you get there 

  • Avoid crowds. Be prepared to go somewhere else or come back another time if your destination looks crowded. 
  • Practice physical distancing. Keep six feet between you and those outside your immediate household. Launch one boat at a time to give others enough space to launch safely. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you. Trailer your boat in the same way. 
  • Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.  
  • Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.