In 2018, all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches will remain closed to recreational clamming due to the continued low abundance of mature sized razor clams. Fish and Game made the announcement because any razor clam harvest in 2018 will likely delay recovery of Kenai Peninsula razor clam populations.
The closure prohibits the taking of any clam species from Eastside beaches and will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, January 1, 2018, 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.
Since 2014, the annual abundance of mature sized razor clams have remained at historical low levels at Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches due to high rates of natural mortality and insufficient recruitment of juvenile and mature sized razor clams.
Although annual recruitment of juvenile and mature sized razor clams have been low, in 2016 and 2017 well above average recruitment of juvenile razor clams were detected on both Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches, which signals that the population may be beginning to rebound. These beach sections will again be surveyed in 2018 so recruitment trends of juvenile sized razor clams to the beach and to mature sized can be assessed.
The above average recruitment of juvenile sized razor clams observed in 2016 and 2017 indicates that razor clam abundance on these beaches can rebuild naturally.
The cause of the decline in razor clam abundance remains unknown but may include a combination of heavy surf, habitat changes, environmental stressors and predation.
This closure does not affect recreational razor clam regulations on Westside Cook Inlet beaches.