Local News

Herring tapering down with half of quota unharvested

The Sitka Sound Sac Roe Herring fishery is tapering down, with about half of this year’s targeted harvest still in the water.

Although it’s looking like a repeat of the 2012 season, this year’s guideline harvest level – at 11,500 tons – is far more conservative than the 29,000 tons seiners targeted last year.

During his daily update this morning (Monday 4-1-13) over VHF radio, Fish & Game management biologist Dave Gordon said active spawning was beginning to dwindle in the northern part of the Sound, indicating that the peak season was winding down.

There are visibly fewer seiners tied up in Sitka channel, as fishermen drop their nets and head back home. In past seasons, herring fishermen have mopped up the remaining few tons of quota with a cooperative fishery.

That’s been discussed this year, but Gordon says the matter is not resolved. A co-op may not save this season.

“Right now, it looks like there’s not much to work with, if we’re in a co-op fishery or not,” he said.

Saturday’s third opening of the season was initially thought to be around 1,000 tons. The final amount is far less – 173 tons. That puts the harvest for 2013 just short of 5,900 tons, about half of this year’s target.

On the upside, the department is recording significant amounts of spawn – a total of 41 miles of shoreline so far. Also concentrations of herring have been seen to the north of Sitka in Salisbury Sound, and to the south near Goddard and Dorothy Narrows. Seining has been held in both those areas in past years.

In his radio update, Gordon did not rule out a comeback for the 2013 season. Secondary spawning has sometimes brought in marketable volumes of herring. But so far, Gordon says he has not “identified a biomass of major size.”

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