OLYMPIA - All five razor clam beaches on the Washington coast will open for clam digging in late April if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced Tuesday.

If test results are favorable, two beaches - Long Beach and Twin Harbors - will be open to clam digging on morning tides for four days, April 21 through April 24. The other three beaches - Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch - are tentatively scheduled to open three days on morning tides, April 22 through April 24.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, noted that the proposed opening in April would give clam diggers their first opportunity of the season to dig razor clams on morning tides. No clam digging will be allowed after noon at any beach.

To participate, diggers must have a valid 2004-05 shellfish/seaweed license, available from license vendors across the state and on-line at http://www.greatlodge.com/. WDFW will also sell licenses at the Willapa Bay Field Station (Nahcotta Lab) at 267 Sandridge Road, Ocean Park, on the Peninsula from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 through April 23 and from 6:30 a.m. until noon April 24.

"We know a lot of people look forward to digging razor clams on morning tides," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. "The tides are now in our favor and we just have to hope the test results for marine toxins are, too."

Under state health protocols, clams must meet state health standards for marine toxins in two separate tests before WDFW can open a beach for digging. Results of the second test should be available from the Washington Department of Health by April 20, when WDFW will make a final determination on the April dig, Ayres said.

WDFW will announce its decision on its Web site, http://wdfw.wa.gov/, on the department's Shellfish Hotline (1-866-880-5431) and through the Chinook Observer.

For best results, Ayres recommends that clam enthusiasts start digging at least one hour before low tide. Low morning tides during the proposed opening in April are as follows:

• April 21: 8:30 am / -0.6 ft.

• April 22: 9:06 am / -0.5 ft.

• April 23: 9:43 am / -0.3 ft.

• April 24: 10:22 am / 0.0 ft.

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