Area Management Biologist
February 24, 2015
Low density of mature and juvenile razor clams in the Ninilchik and Clam Gulch areas have resulted in the closure of all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches to clamming in 2015. The closure prohibits the taking of any clam species from Eastside beaches and will go into effect at 12:01 a.m., March 1, 2015 and will be in effect for the remainder of the year. The affected area runs from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit.
An abundance study conducted in 2014 at Ninilchik South beach showed that the average number of mature-size razor clams was roughly 80% lower than averages seen between 1991 and 2012. In addition, a study conducted at Clam Gulch showed average number of mature-size razor clams is 89% below averages seen between 1989 and 2008. Assessment of the length and age of the juvenile sized razor clams in the 2014 surveys suggests poor recruitment to the mature size razor clams for the next two to three years.
“Any razor clam harvest in 2015 will likely delay recovery of the Eastside Cook Inlet razor clam populations” Carol Kerkvliet, the Area Management Biologist in Homer said. “To protect the resource and ensure the health of razor clam populations it’s important that all recreational clamming be closed along Eastside Beaches.”
The cause of the decline in razor clam abundance on Eastside Beaches is unknown. In 2013, the razor clam bag and possession limit was decreased by emergency order from 60 to the first 25 clams dug for all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches. In 2014, a section of the Ninilchik beach was closed to the harvest of clams and the razor clam bag and possession limit was decreased from 60 to the first 25 clams dug on the remaining Eastside Beaches.
In 2015, abundance sampling of razor clams populations will be reassessed on the Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches in April and May, and age-length sampling will be conducted on Eastside beaches from May through August.
This closure does not affect recreational razor clam regulations on Westside Cook Inlet beaches.