COPALIS (June 24, 2005) – An estimated 12,000 non-tribal recreational razor clam harvesters were on Copalis Beach north of Ocean Shores in early May thanks to a gift of 180,000 clams from the Quinault Indian Nation.

“The Ocean Shores community and surrounding area were very appreciative,” said Ed Johnstone, fisheries policy spokesperson for Quinault Indian Nation (QIN). “For centuries, we’ve always protected and shared this resource.”

Because tribal estimates found that surplus clams would exist this year, the nation offered to allow recreational diggers access to some of their share.

“We were only able to include Copalis Beach in the two-day May opening because the Quinault Indian Nation generously agreed to transfer 180,000 clams from their share of the harvest to the non-tribal share,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The QIN and the state work together to assess the clam populations on off-reservation beaches and develop harvest limits based on the available percentage of clams. The harvests are shared equally between recreational and tribal diggers as outlined by treaty and affirmed by the courts.

A weekend of non-tribal recreational clamming is big business for hotels, gas stations and restaurants in the Ocean Shores area. Business doubles at Anthony’s Home Port Restaurant in Ocean Shores during a razor clam opening with nice weather, managers said.

The numbers of cars entering Ocean Shores was up an average of 9 percent over this time last year mostly thanks to better weather and clam openers. More than 368,000 visitors passed through Ocean Shores in May according to Ken Mercer, director of tourism and business development for Ocean Shores.

“This was an unusual circumstance. The nation rarely has clams left over and we can only make that determination at the beginning of May toward the end of the season,” said Joe Schumacker, operations section manager for the QIN. “This year, we could see, based on harvest patterns, that we would have clams left over and it’s a use them or lose them situation. The QIN shared those clams with non-tribal recreational harvesters.”

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For more information, contact: Ed Johnstone, fisheries policy, Quinault Indian Nation, (360) 276-8215; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, (360) 364-5501, dpreston@nwifc.org