4 days in July set for Ninilchik razor clam harvest

A limited harvest opportunity for razor clams in Ninilchik will be opened in July, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday.

An advisory announcement published by the department says that they recently completed annual surveys of razor clam abundance at beaches in Clam Gulch and Ninilchik. The abundance of adult clams is below the threshold necessary to open the fishery in Clam Gulch, but above the required abundance in Ninilchik, where the sport and personal use fisheries will be open for four days, from July 1 through July 4.

The bag and possession limits will be the first 15 clams dug for both fisheries.

Harvest will be permitted in all beaches along the Kenai Peninsula from 3 miles north of the Ninilchik River near Lemans Point south to the tip of the Homer Spit, the announcement says.

The management plan for east Cook Inlet razor clams adopted by the Board of Fisheries in March of last year requires that before any harvest opportunity is opened, there needs to be at least half as many clams as the average of historical counts, and the harvest opportunity can only allow anglers to harvest a small percentage of that population.

The announcement says that the east Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries have been closed since 2015, and that despite those closures, the populations are “failing to recover.” The rate of young clams coming to east Cook Inlet beaches have been “moderate to strong,” but they have been taking up to two years longer than expected to reach adult sizes, or are never reaching those sizes.

The juvenile abundance found at Ninilchik beaches is the lowest since 2013, the announcement says, so the indication is that the fishery will likely not open in 2024 or 2025. Similarly, the Clam Gulch beaches are not expected to see opportunity in the next few years.

“We are excited for people to have a chance to dig razor clams this summer,” said Lower Cook Inlet Area Management Biologist Mike Booz in the announcement. “Unfortunately, the current status requires this opportunity to be small this year and we are not expecting the fishery to be open next year.”

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

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