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Hundreds of clams illegally taken from Pismo Beach

Posted at 6:18 PM, Aug 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-10 21:18:19-04

People are illegally taking clams from Pismo Beach by the hundreds. California Department of Fish and Wildlife representatives says they saw about 800 clams unlawfully harvested in just one weekend. 

Clamming regulations include:

  • Taking only up to 10 clams per day per person
  • Clams must be 4 1/2 inches in diameter 
  • You must have a sport fishing license 
  • Clams may be taken only between a half-hour before sunrise and a half-hour after sunset.

Some people are taking them intentionally, but most beachgoers just don’t know the rules. 

Chris Foster, a Fish and Wildlife Game Warden, says he sees more activity during the summer. 
 
"A couple of weeks ago we had a group take 335 and then a group right next to them about 100-200 yards away took about 168," Foster said.

Pismo Clams haven’t reached legal size in decades and the fines for taking undersized clams can be hundreds of dollars per shell. 

Researchers at Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences noticed that more baby clams are showing up on the beach. That’s a good sign, but not when they are being taken. 
"So people are finding them more so they are taking them more, but without knowing how much people are harvesting, it makes it difficult to know the impact on the population," said Professor Benjamin Ruttenberg, Director of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences. 

The research center is trying to find answers about the clams’ lifespan, reproductive cycle and number of offspring. 
 
According to Fish and Wildlife, it is best to put back an undersized clam exactly where it was found.

The department is also asking the public to report any illegal clamming to their headquarters.