A study by NOAA and the University of Washington says a yearlong closure of recreational razor clam digging could result in as much as $22 million in lost revenue to counties on the Washington coast.
The razor clam season normally is open from October through May. But occasionally it is closed due to algae blooms that produce domoic acid, which makes the clams and other shellfish toxic. Eating the shellfish can make people sick and, in rare cases, result in death.
Dan Ayers, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, says the fishery is critical for many coastal businesses to survive during the offseason for tourism. The study estimates that on prime digging days, up to 30,000 people may head for the beaches.