Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion   In this May 17, 2014 file photo Ted Nichols, 12, and his father John Nichols, of Chugiak, dig for razor clams at Whiskey Gulch. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the beaches on the east side of the Cook Inlet to clamming after data indicated a nearly 80 percent drop in the average number of clams in the population.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion In this May 17, 2014 file photo Ted Nichols, 12, and his father John Nichols, of Chugiak, dig for razor clams at Whiskey Gulch. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the beaches on the east side of the Cook Inlet to clamming after data indicated a nearly 80 percent drop in the average number of clams in the population.

Eastside Cook Inlet beaches closed to clamming

The Kenai Peninsula’s east side razor clam population has crashed, according to Fish and Game abundance data.

The Sport Fish Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday announced that the Cook Inlet’s east shore will be closed to clamming during 2015. The closure will apply to all beaches between the mouth of the Kenai River and the southern end of Homer Spit.

A Fish and Game news release announcing the closure cited Fish and Game’s 2014 abundance studies, which found that average razor clam numbers were 80 percent lower than averages recorded between 1990 and 2012 at Ninilchik’s South Beach, and 94 percent lower than averages recorded between 1998 and 2008 at Clam Gulch.

“Any razor clam harvest in 2015 will likely delay recovery of the Eastside Cook Inlet razor clam populations,” said Carol Kerkvliet, Fish and Game Area Management Biologist in Homer.

Previously, Fish and Game decreased the clam bag limit from 60 to 25 on all east-side Cook Inlet beaches in 2013 and 2014, and in 2014 closed clamming on a portion of Ninilchik beach.

Fish and Game officials do not know the cause of the declining clam population, but in the news release said it may be due to “poor spawning and/or settling success.” A new abundance study will take place on Ninilchik Beach in April and May 2015, and samples will be taken from other east side beaches between May and August.

 

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion   In this May 17, 2014 file photo Ted Nichols, 12,  of Chugiak, digs for razor clams at Whiskey Gulch. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the beaches on the east side of the Cook Inlet to clamming after data indicated a nearly 80 percent drop in the average population estimates.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion In this May 17, 2014 file photo Ted Nichols, 12, of Chugiak, digs for razor clams at Whiskey Gulch. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the beaches on the east side of the Cook Inlet to clamming after data indicated a nearly 80 percent drop in the average population estimates.

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