More bad news for local eats.
A collapse of the razor clam population across Kenai Peninsula beaches has prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to close many of them to clamming for the rest of the year.
All clam species will be off limits beginning Sunday from the mouth of the Kenai River to Homer to the thousands of diggers who spend time on the beaches with clam shovels and clam guns. Never before has there been a complete shutdown, according to Fish and Game Biologist Carol Kerkvliet.
The move was prompted by a 2014 survey of the clam populations on those beaches. It found:
• The clam population at the popular Clam Gulch beach was 89 percent lower than average.
• At Ninilchik south, the population was down 82 percent.
• At both locations, the number of juvenile clams was also down sharply -- ranging from 36 percent to 86 percent -- an indication that no recovery is on the horizon.
“The cause of the decline … on east-side beaches is unknown but is thought to have resulted from poor spawning,” according to a press release from Fish and Game.
The shutdown is the latest blow for outdoorsmen and women on the Kenai Peninsula, as well as the businesses that cater to them. Poor returns of king salmon to the Kenai and other Peninsula rivers have resulted in frequent closures, hampering anglers and fishing businesses for several years.
Tuesday’s emergency order follows previous efforts to limit the take, including sharp cutbacks in bag limits for clams and, last summer, the closure of a section of the beach at Ninilchik.