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2024-2026 joint management plan summary, razor clam (Siliqua patula)

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Full text of joint management plan: Razor clam - 2024 to 2026 (PDF, 578 KB)

The purpose of this Joint Fisheries Management Plan (JMP) summary is to provide a brief overview of the information found in the full JMP. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to DFO staff, legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders. This JMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

This JMP summary is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The JMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act. The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the JMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the JMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an JMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claims agreements, the provisions of the land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

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General overview/introduction and map

The Razor Clam fishery in Pacific Fishery Management Subarea 1-5 and a portion of 102-1 is currently managed jointly between the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) through a Razor Clam Subagreement first signed on August 14, 1994 and renewed annually as part of a Comprehensive Fisheries Agreement..

Haida Nation fishing for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes is open throughout the year depending on biotoxin monitoring results. There is no daily, possession, or size limit for razor clams harvested in the Haida Nation non-commercial (FSC) fishery. FSC harvesting of intertidal bivalves within Haida traditional territory will be limited to Haida citizens and designated individuals only.

When open, the commercial fishery is managed by a total allowable catch and in-season based on the days when the tide level is 5.5 feet and under, based on the Prince Rupert tide tables. Participants and licensees harvest only in Clam Licence Area A (Pacific Fishery Management Subarea 1-5 and a portion of Subarea 102-1). Both a category “Z-2” clam licence and a Fisher’s Registration Card (FRC) or non-transferable designation card from the CHN are required to participate in commercially harvesting razor clams. Other management measures include a minimum ninety (90) millimetre through the greatest breadth of the shell size limit and a restriction to hand digging only. Openings are dependant on water quality, marine biotoxin testing and tide hights. The commercial fishery has been closed since the 2019-20 season.

When open, the recreational fishery for Razor clams is restricted to a daily and possession limit. Recreational harvestesr are required to hold a valid British Columbia Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence to harvest Razor clam. There is no size limit, and the recreational fishery has been closed since the 2020-21 season.

For the 2024-25 season, the commercial and recreational fisheries continue to be closed as 2023 stock assessment surveys indicate pre-season biomass estimates are below the Limit Reference Point (LRP) and in the Critical Zone. The FSC fishery remains open for the 2024-25 season.

map showing razor clam harvesting area

Science and stock assessment

The Haida Fisheries Program has conducted standardized surveys of the beach since 1994. The length of beach surveyed in Subarea 1-5 has increased over time, from three areas to five. Survey data is analysed to produce biomass and abundance estimates that are used to understand population health as well as support the determination of catch ceilings for the commercial fishery.

In 2009, a new analysis of sustainable harvest rate was developed and resulted in proposed reference points for Razor clam (working paper by R. Jones, S. Jeffery, B. DeFreitas, and C. Scqarz titled “Estimation of reference points and a precautionary harvest strategy for the Razor clam (Siliqua patula) fishery at Haida Gwaii”).

In the early 2000’s there was a growing demand for Razor clams as a food product. This demand along with high clam abundance resulted in record catches in 2000 (since 1941) and 2008 that conincided with peaks in Razor clam biomass. However, biomass estimates dropped significantly leading up to the 2019 season. The pre-season biomass estimates for the 2019 season placed the stock in the Cautious zone, and estimates for the 2020 season were below the limit reference point and in the Critical zone.


Most commercially harvested Razor Clams were used as bait in the crab fishery. Catches have fluctuated over the years due to changes in biomass and market demand. Poor markets, a high Canadian dollar, and a downturn in the commercial crab fishery in 2007 had significant impacts on this fishery. In 2015, the TAC was not fully harvested due to low effort from fishermen. The average price varies around $1/lb. Stock decline was seen in the preseason biomass estimate in 2019 and this stock has not supported a commercial harvest since that time.

Shared stewardship arrangements

CHN and DFO jointly manage the Razor clam fishery. In addition to providing beach surveys, the Haida Fisheries Program supports a biotoxin monitoring program on a year round basis. They also forward catch and effort data on a regular basis to the Department on behalf of all participants and licensees and monitor the catch and effort each month and in collaboration with DFO.

Environment and Climate Change Canada conducts water quality surveys to assess the sanitary conditions in shellfish growing waters.

Governance process

The Razor Clam In-Season Management Committee has membership from the Razor Clam Diggers Association, CHN, Old Massett Village Council, DFO (Resource Management, Conservation and Protection), and Masset Razor Clam processors.This Commitee meets as needed in order to set the annual quota, opening times, and address other management issues.

Management of the fishery

# Management issue Objectives Management measure
1 Haida FSC and commercial razor clam harvesters expressed concern over the effort by recreational diggers on clam stocks on North Beach. To meet conservation objectives and ensure healthy and productive fisheries and ecosystems. Since 2005, creel surveys have been conducted by Haida Fisheries Program staff during the June to August period to estimate catch. These studies indicate that recreational catch has been less than 1,000 pounds annually from North Beach 1 and 2. Fishing effort on other beaches is thought to be low.
2 Market conditions for the commercial fishery. To manage fisheries to provide opportunities for economic prosperity.
To consider the goals of stakeholders with respect to social, cultural and economic value of the fishery.
All aspects of the fishery, including pre-season planning, quota and threshold establishment, and post-season review, are discussed at Haida Joint Shellfish Technical Committee meetings.
3 Vehicle traffic at low tide To educate the public that operating a motor vehicle at the 5.5ft tide level and below could result in mortality of juvenile clams that are close to the surface. A North Beach Stewardship Education plan has been initiated by Haida Fisheries

Compliance plan

DFO has the responsibility to enforce the Fisheries Act and associated regulations, to address conservation, health and safety issues and to maintain proper management and control of the various fisheries.

Performance review

All aspects of the fishery, including pre-season planning, quota and threshold establishment, and post-season review, are discussed at Haida Joint Shellfish Technical Committee meetings.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada contact

For additional information on this JMP summary, please contact Coral Cargill at 250-627-3021 or

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