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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Olympic National Park and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists will hold a public meeting to discuss Kalaloch razor clams on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at the Olympic Natural Resources Center at 1445 South Forks Avenue in Forks.
The Kalaloch razor clam population has dropped to the lowest levels seen since population counts began 11 years ago, leading Olympic National Park and WDFW managers to close Kalaloch to razor clamming this season.
“With such low population numbers and considering last year’s very poor clamming season, it is clear that we must cancel this year’s razor clamming season at Kalaloch,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner. “By eliminating harvest this year, we hope to give the Kalaloch clam population a chance to rebound.”
The decision to cancel the clamming season at Kalaloch was made in coordination with WDFW and does not apply to other beaches in the state. Information about harvest dates on the other beaches (Copalis, Long Beach, Mocrocks and Twin Harbors) will be released by WDFW.
Biologists conduct stock assessments each summer to estimate the clam population. This year’s population estimate (271,868 clams over three inches) showed a 65 percent decline from the 2006 assessment of 781,596 clams over three inches in length. In contrast, there were 2.1 million clams over three inches in 2003-2004 and 6.2 million in 2001-2002.
Last season’s recreational harvest at Kalaloch was notably poor, with diggers at Kalaloch succeeding in harvesting an average of 4.4 clams per day, while diggers on clam beaches further south averaged 14 clams a day.
Biologists theorize that the Kalaloch clams may be infected with the shellfish disease “NIX”, also known as nuclear inclusion X. This disease, unique to razor clams, is a naturally occurring bacterium that affects the clam’s gill function. While harmless to humans, high levels of NIX can be fatal to razor clams.