Peninsula's Cook Inlet Clamming Beaches to Remain Closed
Causes of stock collapse still unknown.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will be keeping the Kenai Peninsula’s formerly bountiful razor clam beaches closed again for another year. The current closure, which extends from the farthest tip of the Homer Spit to the mouth of the Kenai River, expires at midnight on New Year’s Eve, after having been in effect for the full year. The Cook Inlet beaches have been closed since the clam stock collapsed in 2015.
The renewed closure goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, and lasts until the end of 2022.
According to the Department, reports of adult razor clam abundance were mixed this year, with a decline on Ninilchik Beaches, but a healthy 12 percent increase on Clam Gulch beaches.
The 2021 adult abundances at both beaches were still below their historical averages, however juvenile abundance was above historical averages at Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches.
From 2020 to 2021, natural mortality of adult razor clams was high at both beaches with approximately 69% lost at Ninilchik beaches and approximately 84% lost at Clam Gulch beaches. The causes of this high natural mortality rate remain unknown, but may include a combination of heavy surf, habitat changes, environmental stressors, and predation.
Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Mike Booz (booze) said the Department is aware of how important the fishery is to residents
“For many of you, the loss of this fishery has been a really big deal. And we’re doing all that we can to ensure that we can identify a sustainable sports fishing opportunity with this resource,” Booz said.
ADF&G has submitted a proposal to the Alaska Board of Fisheries to implement a management plan for the beaches of east Cook Inlet, which would allow sport and personal use fisheries while razor clam abundance is above a sustainability threshold, but below historical abundance levels. It is scheduled to be discussed at the Fish Board’s mid March meeting in Anchorage.