Anyone hoping to dig for razor clams on Clatsop County beaches will have to wait until March.
The closure, announced by the state on Thursday, applies to an 18-mile stretch of beach between Tillamook Head in Seaside and the mouth of the Columbia River.
Fishery managers had already delayed the reopening of the season after a stock assessment revealed large numbers of small clams.
The Clatsop beaches are home to productive clam beds and are a popular destination for diggers. Clams harvested account for 95 percent of the razor clams pulled in Oregon. Razor clamming typically reopens on Oct. 1 each year after an annual conservation closure from July through September.
After the stock assessment results were made public in September, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hosted a public meeting in Seaside last week, asking for feedback on potential management actions, including the closure of the season until spring.
“The consensus was to give the small clams a chance to grow and delay until spring to provide a quality razor clamming experience,” said Matt Hunter, the state shellfish project leader. “During the closure, (state shellfish) staff will continue to monitor the growth of razor clams to ensure they are growing adequately.”
During the stock assessment, Hunter and other state staff found a majority of the clams were between 2 to 3 inches — too small to be harvested commercially and not big enough to interest recreational clammers.
The state worried about clams being wasted if diggers, inadvertently or on purpose, discarded the smaller clams in pursuit of larger clams.