SALEM — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will award four coast-wide bay clam dive permits April 11 at ODFW headquarters in Salem, according to an ODFW press release.

“The commercial bay clam dive fishery in Oregon is limited to 15 permits — 10 coast-wide permits and five south-coast permits,” said DeAnna Erickson, license service manager for ODFW, in the release. “If the number of permits falls below 15, we hold a lottery to bring the number back up to 15. Currently there are four coast-wide permits available.”

Bay clams are harvested by licensed inter-tidal commercial harvesters and also by permitted sub-tidal divers. Harvest focuses on cockles and gapers, though butter, littlenecks and softshells also are landed.

“Historical landings patterns and species targeted vary depending on market demand, environmental conditions and population abundances,” said Mitch Vance, shellfish project leader for ODFW's Marine Resources Program. Some restrictions also exist for conservation purposes.

“For instance, the season for gapers is closed from January to June when they are spawning,” Vance said.

Only one application per vessel or individual will be accepted. Applications must be received in the Salem office or postmarked no later than March 31, 2014. Successful applicants for individual permits will be required to purchase a personal commercial license within 30 days. Individual commercial licenses cost $82 for residents and $132 for nonresidents.

To renew a permit for the next year, the holder must meet minimum landing requirements of five landings of at least 100 pounds each or an annual total of 2,500 pounds with dive gear. If there are no landings, the permit reverts to the state.

For more information about applying for a permit, contact ODFW's licensing services, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE., Salem, OR 97302 or call 503-947-6101 or 800-720-6339, ext. 76142.