A dark cloud has formed over a planned coastal razor clam digs scheduled next week.
State Fish and Wildlife has found out that marine toxins have skyrocketed at Long Beach, which has now canceled the dig there.
The fisheries staff has also delayed their final approval about digging at Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch beaches until next week after they take more toxin testing on beaches.
Previous plans for a dig starting late next week were put on hold after routine testing found elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in clams collected on coastal beaches, Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager said in a news release.
PSP is a marine toxin produced by a certain type of algae that can cause paralysis and in some cases can lead to death if consumed in sufficient quantities.
Marine toxin levels in clams dug this week at Long Beach were above the cutoff level set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
State Fish and Wildlife will do more testing on clams collected at the other beaches, where PSP levels also appear to be on the rise.
“It’s always disappointing to cancel a razor clam dig, and we hate to make people wait for answers on the other beaches,” Ayres said. “But public safety comes first, which is why we test razor clams before every public dig.”
A final decision will be made by Jan. 28.
PSP had been detected in clams on the Oregon coast where beaches had been closed since December, and biologists suspect it may have migrated northward.
No coastal beaches have been closed to razor-clam digging because of elevated PSP levels since 1993, Ayres said. A different marine toxin, domoic acid, prompted a season-long closure in 2002-03.