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5,610 tons in second Sitka herring opening

(Click to enlarge.) The two openings so far in Sitka's sac roe herring fishery have taken place north of the city, between Middle and Krestof islands. (KCAW photo/Ed Ronco)

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery will stand down until Thursday, in order to give processors time to catch up with the incoming catch.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates fishermen caught roughly 5,600 tons of fish during the second opening on Monday.

That brings the total harvested so far to about 10,400 tons, or more than a third of this year’s guideline harvest level. The 48 boats in this year’s fishery are attempting to catch 28,829 tons of herring.

About 20 nautical miles of spawn have been recorded, including along Sitka’s road system from the breakwater north. The herring must be caught before they deposit their eggs. ADF&G management biologist Dave Gordon says the timing of the fishery is always a concern.

“Certainly this year we’re finding ourselves behind the curve on the spawn. It’s definitely of great concern,” Gordon said. “That means the fish are putting their eggs on the beach, and so there’s a significant portion of the stock that’s not going to be available for potential harvest.”

Aerial surveys took place Tuesday to continue monitoring the distribution of the fish and the progression of the spawn. The next vessel survey is slated for Wednesday.

The recorded message on ADF&G’s hotline is having technical problems. You can find fishery updates from ADF&G by clicking this link. Set the species group to “herring,” and the gear class to “seine” in order to see Sitka updates.

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