Razor Clams, Biotoxins, and Outreach

During my time as a Malouf Scholar, I completed my research on the impacts of the razor clam fishery on Oregon coastal communities. After successfully defending, I am officially graduated and working on publishing my findings.

Some of the main finds from the research were that the razor clam fishery is an important fishery to the economy of the northern coast of Oregon. With the recreational fishery bringing in an estimated $1.8 million in 2019. This fishery has also been an important resource to the Dungeness crab fishery, supplying bait to commercial and recreational crabbers. It was also found that biotoxin closures due to harmful algal blooms off the coast of Oregon were the largest issue this fishery faces.

There are still some gaps in understanding this fishery’s importance. For instance, no estimate is available for the commercial razor clam harvesting contribution to the local economy. There is a contribution from commercial clam harvest supplying clams for seafood markets and the bait market, but no way to accurately assess this input without an in-depth economic assessment.

While conducting the research, many participants from the interviews commented on how they wanted to know more about the fishery and biotoxin closures. After hearing these requests, I drafted an outreach document for people on the north coast participating in the fishery. This document goes over the main findings of the research and then talks about what biotoxins are, why they happen, and why the fishery is closed because of them. I hope to have this published in the next couple of months for use by the Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

I am exceedingly grateful to the staff at Oregon Sea Grant for supporting me during this research. I am so pleased that this project has been able to fill a knowledge gap and produce products that will be useful to the members of the harvesting community.

I look forward to reading about what the next group of Malouf Scholars shares!

All the best,


During my defense presentation, I shared some of the outreach documents that I had made.

Razor Clams and Graduate School

Hello All!

I am a Malouf Scholar coming to the end of this season, known as graduate school. I have been working very hard to complete my data analysis in the past months. In addition, I have begun to wrap up my study on the impacts of the razor clam fishery on Oregon coastal communities. I am so close to completing my study and will be defending my master’s this summer! (I know everyone says this, but honestly, where does the time go?)

I have learned so much; for instance, I found that razor clams are an important resource to Northern Oregon, with many examples of multi-generational harvesters. Also, the razor clam fishery helps keep coastal businesses alive during the winter months when there are not many other fisheries open. These are just two examples of the outcomes of my research, and there is so much more that I wish I could share with you!

From the beginning of this project, I wanted to produce elements that razor clam managers could use and harvesters. Through interviews with coastal communities, many research participants commented that they wanted to know more about biotoxin closures (a biotoxin is a poisonous substance produced by a living organism). Many also commented that they wanted to learn more about domoic acid (in the past decade, it has shorted the razor clam harvest season 6 years in a row, from 2015 to 2020). With this in mind, I started drafting an infographic about domoic acid, where it comes from, and why it happens. While that’s not quite finished yet, I am excited to be able to share it with the communities when it is completed.

I also have been working on other small deliverables, such as a small poster showing the life cycle of a razor clam. The life cycle is below, there’s still some fine-tuning left, but I would love any input you might have!

Razor Clams in Oregon

For my master’s project, I am working on the ecological, economic, and socio-cultural impacts of razor clams for Oregon coastal communities. I am excited to partner with Oregon Sea Grant to continue my project into its final year. Though I will say, time is flying.

It’s hard to believe that I’m over half finished with my master’s project. Last summer, I interviewed razor clam harvesters, business owners, and communities leaders in Northern Oregon for part of my project. I am excited to add their thoughts and knowledge to my research! I believe that knowledge gained through science and experience are both valid, and there are many benefits to having both in the conversation. The importance of the razor clam fishery in Oregon hasn’t ever been studied, which is one of the reasons why I am so interested in this project. I get to add both scientific and ecological knowledge to help fill this gap in our understanding of the impacts of a healthy fishery.

That also means that I get to take trips up to Seaside and Astoria every now and again. For example, this past summer, I got to see the Peter Iredale shipwreck for the first time and go to the Astoria Column.

The months ahead will be filled with final data analysis and the preparation to defend next summer. I will also be preparing materials for ODFW to use for outreach to better connect with the razor clam harvesting community as part of my public outreach. Busy days are ahead, but I look forward to working with OSG and other OSG scholars in the coming months.