Clammers dig near South Jetty

Recreational and commercial razor clam diggers wait for waves to wash back out before digging at South Jetty on Sunday.

Razor clamming is open again on the North Coast.

Unsafe levels of the marine toxin domoic acid in razor clam meat closed Clatsop County beaches to harvest in early March. Now recent shellfish samples indicate the toxin levels have fallen below the closure limit, according to information released by the Oregon Department of Agriculture on Friday.

Recreational razor clamming is now open in Oregon from the Columbia River to Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford.

Stormy weather kept most people inside Saturday, but around a dozen people could be seen braving the surf and occasional rainfall near the South Jetty on Sunday afternoon during low tide.

“Today is pretty stormy, but we live here and we know: Don’t turn your back on the ocean,” said Jeri Johnson of Svensen, who was out on the beach with her family, coat zipped to her throat and hood up against the rain. “We’re just glad it’s open again.”

Her husband was a distant figure, wading in knee-deep water. Johnson and others who had come without their waders hung back and watched the waves. They darted out when the outgoing tide exposed more of the sandbar and then raced the waves back to keep from getting soaked.

There was, in the words of one clammer who had only managed to dig a few small clams in between wave pulses, “just too much ocean today.”

State fishery managers struggled to secure the samples that made the opening possible. Bad weather made it difficult, even at low tide, to access the sandbars in Clatsop Beach. Matt Hunter, the state shellfish project leader, preferred to pull a sample there since those areas are where the majority of people look for razor clams.

Most of the razor clams harvested in the state come from the highly productive beds in the Clatsop Beach and Sunset Beach areas. The 18-mile stretch of beach includes South Jetty and Fort Stevens State Park.

These beaches had already experienced an unusual extended closure to give small razor clams more time to grow. The harvest opened briefly at the beginning of March before being shut down due to domoic acid.

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