Aerial survey finds predators, no herring
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Crew aboard the Sitka-based F/V Pillar Bay tend to the net after the closure of the 2012 herring season. (KCAW photo/Ed Ronco)
Lots of whales, not a lot of herring. Not yet, anyway.
That’s the report from the first aerial survey of the 2013 herring season in Sitka Sound. Alaska Department of Fish & Game officials found 24 whales in the Sound, mostly between Kruzof Island and Crow Island, and offshore of north Middle Island.
Sea lions were spotted off Mountain Point and Inner Point.
The locations of the predators suggest to state officials that herring are most concentrated in the trenches north and west of Middle Island. And they say that’s normal for this time of year.
All the build-up is in anticipation of Sitka’s commercial herring fishery. The fish caught in Sitka are used primarily for their roe, which is sold in Japan still in the egg sac. The fishery itself has been incredibly lucrative in the past for fishermen, although last year’s catch wasn’t as big as expected.
Officials expect to take a sample of fish on Monday. They’ll monitor the percentages of mature roe in the fish in order to determine when the fishery should open.
State planners still see a road across Baranof Island as an important part of transportation infrastructure -- though it may take decades to become reality. The Department of Transportation held an open house and informational meeting in Sitka this week (8-20-14) on the latest draft of the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan. And while maintaining and refurbishing the ferry system is high on the list of priorities for the region, major road construction -- both in Juneau and in Sitka -- remains on the books. more
Sitka drivers frustrated by poor road conditions on Halibut Point Road during this summer’s paving project can take heart: It’s going to get better. Al Clough, the Southeast Regional director for the Department of Transportation says that while heavy rains have been a setback, the road will be done -- or a driveable temporary surface in place -- by the end of the paving season a month from now. more