OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday issued a press release officially halting a previously scheduled razor clam dig that was to begin Friday, March 20.

WDFW said its action is in response to Pacific County's health officer advising the closure of beaches to razor clam digging.

State shellfish managers had approved a dig after vetting it with county officials and health departments in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, and after consultation with state health officials, WDFW said.

“WDFW is responsive to the needs of local communities, and we manage razor clams in consultation with our coastal communities to ensure sustainable harvest,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW’s coastal region director. “But, under these circumstances, we need to include more than sustainable harvest in our decision making and do what is the best for the community. We understand that the county health department is responding to a global pandemic and WDFW is cancelling these digs to support that work and keep folks healthy.”

There was a lot of dialogue and a fairly long process to approve these digs in light of COVID-19 concerns, and it has been a rapidly evolving issue, he added. “Typically, we would want to provide much more notice before cancelling a razor clam dig,” said Phillips.

Given the level of concern expressed in the communities, and the fact that some of the beaches open to razor clam digging fall within multiple counties, we also elected to close all currently open beaches to razor clam digging in order to provide consistency in approach, added Phillips.

WDFW has tentatively scheduled additional digs through April. Approval of these digs will be based on the results of marine toxin tests, assessment of available health information and further developments in consultation with local and state health authorities.

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