The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will not schedule any razor clam digs on ocean beaches in November due to elevated levels of marine toxins.
Tests show that domoic acid levels on Washington beaches remain above the threshold (20 parts per million) set by state public health officials, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.
"We can't open the beaches for digging until toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat," Ayres said. "Based on the latest results, we won't be able to do that until mid-December at the earliest."
All razor clam beaches have remained closed to digging since last spring when toxin levels increased significantly.
WDFW will continue to work with the Washington Department of Health to monitor regularly marine toxin levels in razor clams, Ayres said. Test results are posted on WDFW's webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html.
Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.
Since 1991, when the toxin was first detected on the Pacific coast, outbreaks of domoic acid have prompted the cancellation of three entire razor clam seasons in Washington - the last one in 2002-03.