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.