This story was last updated at 6:29 p.m.
Some 48 seiners went fishing for herring this afternoon in the waters off Sitka. The first opening of Sitka’s lucrative and fast-paced commercial herring fishery began at 3 p.m. and ended at 6:05 p.m.
The fishing appeared to be slow-going in the first opener. After nearly two hours of fishing, ADF&G management biologist Dave Gordon said on VHF radio that the fleet had caught about 1,500 tons. Ultimately, the fleet hopes to catch more than 11,500 tons of herring.
State fishery managers like to see 10 percent mature roe before calling an opening. A sample taken Wednesday was at 12.9. The fleet has been on two-hour notice since Monday morning.
Sac roe from herring is valued on the Japanese market. Last year’s fishery brought in about $640 a ton off the boat. For fishermen, the 2012 herring season was worth about $8.5 million.
The fishery area was between Bieli Rock and Makhnati Island. We will update with numbers and catch data as soon as it’s available.