Fish and Wildlife Director Opens Razor Clam Fishery in Del Norte County; Fishery in Humboldt County Remains Closed Due to Public Health Hazard

After a five-year closure, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director has re-opened the recreational razor clam fishery in Del Norte County following a recommendation from state health agencies that the consumption of razor clams in the area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure.

The razor clam fishery was one of several fisheries impacted by a massive Pseudo-nitzschia bloom that occurred off the California coast in late 2015. Pseudo-nitzschia, a naturally occurring single-celled, marine alga, produces the potent neurotoxin domoic acid under certain ocean conditions.

During the closure, state health agencies have continued to assess domoic acid levels in razor clams. Razor clams have consistently exceeded the federal action level for domoic acid of 20 parts per million. However, clams recently collected from Crescent City in March and April 2021 all had domoic acid concentrations lower than this action level.

Domoic acid poisoning in humans may occur within minutes to hours after consumption of affected seafood and can result in signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to permanent loss of short-term memory (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death. There is no way to prepare clams that will remove the toxin – cooking and freezing have no effect.

CDFW, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment continue to monitor domoic acid in razor clams to determine when the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt County can be opened safely.

CDFW reminds clammers that the daily bag limit for razor clams is 20 and the first 20 clams dug must be retained regardless of size or condition. The fishery in odd-numbered years is open north of Battery Point, Crescent City in Del Norte County. Effective March 8, 2021, each person is required to keep a separate container for their clams and is not allowed to commingle their take with another person when digging and transporting clams to shore.

For more information, please refer to Section 29.20 Clams General and Section 29.45 for specific razor clam regulations that can be accessed at the following web page: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing/Invertebrate-Fishing-Regs#mollusks

For more information on any fishery closure information or health advisories, please visit: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

To get the latest information on current fishing season closures related to domoic acid, please call CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883.

For the latest consumption warnings, please call CDPH’s Biotoxin information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133.

###

Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 292-2480
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Recreational Razor Clam Fishery Closure in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Extended Due to Ongoing Public Health Concerns

Under new authority granted this year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham has acted to extend the closure of the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties due to continued high levels of domoic acid, as determined by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in consultation with the California Department of Public Health. The fishery closure will remain in effect until the health agencies determine clams to be safe and recommend reopening the fishery.

State health agencies determined last spring that razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended fishery closure in April 2016. The California Fish and Game Commission closed the fishery under emergency rules from April to October 2016 and extended the closure to Jan. 26, 2017.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine algae. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

###

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937