In 2020, clam diggers will once again have to take their buckets and shovels to beaches on the west side of Cook Inlet.
All east side Cook Inlet beaches, from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit, are closed to harvesting clams of all species, an emergency order issued Jan. 2 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said. The emergency order is valid for the rest of 2020.
This is the eighth consecutive year that Cook Inlet beach razor clam sport fishery has been restricted or closed by emergency order because any clam harvest would likely delay recovery of the population.
In 2019, razor clam studies conducted on sections of beach near Ninilchik and Clam Gulch showed that adult abundance of razor clams did not improve and remained below average at all beaches.
Causes of the decline in razor clam abundance remains unknown, but may include a combination of heavy surf, habitat changes, environmental stressors and predation, the emergency order said.
East side Cook Inlet razor clam populations are rebuilding, but it is uncertain if the trend will continue into 2020.
More studies on razor clams will take place in the spring.
This closure does not affect sport razor clam regulations on west side Cook Inlet beaches.