OUTDOORS: Razor clam digs to ring in the new year

RAZOR CLAM DIGGERS can make New Year’s plans as the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has added a Jan. 1 dig to a previously announced Dec. 31 date.

Fish and Wildlife also announced the first extended digs of 2018, six consecutive days at various beaches, running from Sunday, Jan. 28 to Saturday, Feb. 3.

Under Fish and Wildlife’s plan, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks beaches will open for digging at noon Jan. 1, extending a dig previously scheduled for New Year’s Eve at four ocean beaches.

No digging will be allowed at any beach before noon.

Dan Ayres, Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager, said the Jan. 1 opening is designed to give families a chance to ring in the new year digging clams on the beach.

“We know that digging razor clams is a New Year’s tradition for many families and we want to help them keep tradition alive,” Ayres said.

Here is the proposed dig schedule (all digs are pending final toxin test results):

• Sunday, Dec. 31: 5:12 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.

• Monday, Jan. 1: 6:02 p.m. ; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

• Sunday, Jan. 28: 4:06 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Mocrocks

• Monday, Jan. 29: 4:59 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Copalis

• Tuesday, Jan. 30: 5:47 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

• Wednesday, Jan. 31: 6:33 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

• Thursday, Feb. 1: 7:17 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

• Friday, Feb. 2: 8 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

• Saturday, Feb. 3: 8:42 p.m.; -0.4; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Oysters for Anglers

Oyster lovers should make plans to attend the Thursday, Dec. 21, meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers in Sequim.

Ralph Riccio, a shellfish biologist with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, will talk about oyster culture in Sequim Bay and have freshly-shucked Jamestown Seafood oysters to sample.

The meeting will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., with viewing of raffle prizes and fish stories at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting starting at 7 p.m.

Riccio is originally from Rhode Island, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and worked in eelgrass restoration for several years.

He joined the Peace Corps in 2005 and was stationed in Western Samoa working as an integrated coastal management volunteer. Riccio combined his interest in travel and community development to assist coastal communities with food production and adapting to the effects of climate change.

After his return, he earned a masters degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington and is currently working with Jamestown S’Klallam tribal members to restore Olympia oyster populations.

The event is open to the public.

Refreshments will be served, a raffle for fishing gear will be held, and all members present are eligible for a prize.

Stolen crab pots

A Grays Harbor County judge has sentenced a commercial crab fisherman to 90 days of electronic home monitoring and fined him $5,000 for stealing crab pots offshore of Westport, concluding a case that began with an investigation last year byf Fish and Wildlife.

Larrin Breitsprecher, 57, of Westport, was sentenced Dec. 1 by Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Mark McCauley after a jury found him guilty of possessing stolen property and related charges. Beginning May 1, Breitsprecher will be required to remain at home for three months unless he requires medical attention.

Fish and Wildlife Police Captain Dan Chadwick said the department began its investigation after a deckhand on Breitsprecher’s crab boat told officers that his boss directed him to steal crab pots while fishing near Westport.

After obtaining a search warrant, police officers from WDFW and the Quinault Indian Nation seized 32 commercial crab pots from Breitsprecher’s gear stack at the Port of Westport and determined that at least 24 of them belonged to other crabbers, Chadwick said.

“A commercial crab pot fully rigged can run $200 to $250, so the loss of multiple pots can really add up,” he said. “We appreciate that the Grays Harbor prosecutor’s office pursued this case, because it demonstrates that the law extends to ocean waters.” Chadwick said the department also appreciated the assistance of the Quinault tribal police.

Fish and Wildlife currently licenses 223 coastal crab vessels, which landed 16.4 million pounds of Dungeness crab with a dockside value of $52 million during the 2016-17 season.

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