A bag of freshly dug razor clams is held aloft at the Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A bag of freshly dug razor clams is held aloft at the Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

No clamming in Ninilchik or Clam Gulch this year

Adult abundance “well below” fishery thresholds on both beaches

Sport and personal use razor clam fisheries at Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches will remain closed this year, after the fisheries in 2023 saw their first opportunity in eight years.

A Tuesday release from the State Department of Fish and Game says that razor clam abundance surveys conducted at both beaches in recent months found too few adult clams to open the fisheries.

This outcome was not unanticipated, as the department said when opening the fishery in Ninilchik last year that adult abundance met necessary thresholds for allowing harvest — at least meeting or exceeding 50% of the historical average — but juvenile abundance was low, meaning there would likely not be enough adult clams this year or next.

“As anticipated, the number of adult clams on both beaches were not sufficient to support harvest opportunity this season,” said Lower Cook Inlet Area Management Biologist Mike Booz in this year’s release. “Based on the results from this year’s surveys, we are at historical low abundances and will be in a continued rebuilding period.”

This year’s survey found Ninilchik far below the threshold for opening. The low number of clams is attibuted to “natural mortality,” including habitat changes and predation. The impacts of 2023’s four days of harvest are estimated to be relatively very low.

In Clam Gulch, where fishing wasn’t allowed last year, the observed adult abudance is the lowest “ever for this location and well below the fishery threshold.”

Again, the department says that juvenile clam recruitment is also below average, “which suggests that adult abundances are not likely to improve in 2025.”

During last year’s razor clam opportunity, multiple fishers told the Clarion that they were excited simply to have the opportunity to clam again, especially knowing the opportunity was fleeting. Some were returning to a fondly remembered past time, others were clamming for the very first time.

For more information about fishing regulations and availability, visit adfg.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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