While I enjoyed the beginning of your Editors Notebook on July 17 about a possible 50/50 split on the harvesting of razor clams and the associated reasoning for it, I was both astonished and disheartened after getting to, This is partly based on the observation that there are still many clams in Oregon sands, despite a continuous season that stretches on and on.
Is this quote based sir on your actual digging experiences on Oregon beaches? Did you conduct a survey of Oregonians to come to this conclusion? As the Washington Department of Fisheries and then Washington Department of Fish and Wildlifes marine community outreach and environmental specialist from 1988-2009, I know from actual and ongoing interviews with Oregonians and public meetings on the Long Beach Peninsula, that Oregonians actually preferred Washington beaches to those in Oregon because it offered a quality fishery with plenty of big clams. They overwhelmingly told me they were glad to pay the out of state license for a shellfish/seaweed license that would ensure them the opportunity to enjoy a well managed resource unlike what they have at home. They also told me, yes they have clams back home but they are small and very hard to find.
Your suggestion of a 50/50 split concerns me because it is human nature to always want more. While I might agree with you that the 34.5 percent might not be the best figure, it is based on the best science of the day subject to change as better science is learned. On what science might I ask is your 50/50 split based? I do not believe human nature would be satiated at 50 percent once that was allowed and eventually it could come down to fighting over the last few clams as is what appears to be happening now with salmon, rockfish and sturgeon. I do sincerely believe eventually the general populace would want more. It is human nature to want it all and want it now. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a mandate to preserve, protect and perpetuate those species they are entrusted to manage and the razor clam fishery is once of the few success stories in todays modern world. I do not want to see our beaches turn into Oregon beaches and I certainly do not want to see the razor clam go the way of the Dodo bird, coelacanth, or passenger pigeon whose numbers we thought were endless. I do not want your descendants or mine to have to go to a museum to see a stuffed razor clam, yet alone a salmon, rockfish or sturgeon. I dont want you to have to explain to your grandchildren that you remember back when.
As you yourself stated in your editorial, the staff who manage the razor clam fishery are knowledgeable, friendly and dedicated, and arent those the kind of folks we want managing our natural resources? They are working diligently with the best science of the day, the quirky biology of each animal (which throws curve balls from time to time) and honoring treaty rights of the signatory tribes to allow the maximum harvest.
Lets not just pull harvest numbers out of a hat based on emotions but as citizens continue to work with the biologists to allow maximum harvest of each of our marine resources while trying to ensure our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy these resources after we are gone and to know they would be proud that we did so.
Alan D. Rammer