Razor Clam Sport, Personal Use Fisheries In East Cook Inlet To Stay Closed In 2023

The following is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

East Cook Inlet Sport and Personal Use Razor Clam Fisheries Will Remain Closed for 2023

(Homer) – The sport and personal use razor clam fisheries on east Cook Inlet beaches, from the mouth of the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit, will remain closed in 2023. The most recent abundance surveys conducted in spring 2022 at Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches found the adult abundance estimates were below the threshold that would allow a harvest opportunity to occur. Razor clam abundance surveys will be conducted in those areas again in April and May 2023.

East Cook Inlet razor clam sport and personal use fisheries were closed annually by emergency order from 2015 through 2022. In March 2022, the Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted a management plan that requires the adult razor clam abundance to meet or exceed 50% of the historical average abundance to open a limited harvest opportunity. The fisheries remain closed if the 50% threshold is not met, which is the case for 2023.

“Unfortunately, the number of adult clams in Ninilchik and Clam Gulch were not sufficient to support harvest opportunity,” said Lower Cook Inlet Area Management Biologist Mike Booz. “Below average growth and very high natural mortality rates resulted in fewer than expected adult clams for both areas.”

The spring 2022 abundance survey in Ninilchik was conducted at the south beach. Adult abundance was 103,020, which was 64% below the abundance threshold required to open that area to harvest. Preliminary results indicate natural mortality over the 2021-–2022 winter was approximately 71% in the Ninilchik area. In the Clam Gulch area, razor clam abundance was assessed at the north beach and the adult abundance was 847,099, which was 15% below the abundance threshold for that area. Natural mortality over the 2021-–2022 winter in the Clam Gulch area was approximately 93%.

If the April and May 2023 surveys indicate adult razor clam abundance exceeds the 50% threshold in either area, a Press Release will be issued by the department to announce the harvest opportunity.

For additional information, please contact Area Management Biologist Mike Booz or Assistant Area Management Biologist Holly Dickson at (907) 235-8191.