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After a productive second opening on Sunday afternoon (3-23-14), the Sitka sac roe herring fleet is well over halfway toward its harvest goal.
Fishermen landed an estimate 5,000 tons in Sunday’s opening, which began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted an hour and forty minutes, closing at 3:10 p.m. Sunday’s catch was just 300 tons less than the harvest in last Thursday’s season opener — and a little more than the Department of Fish & Game was aiming for.
ADF&G biologist Dave Gordon says there will be no fishing on Tuesday (3-25-14) and possibly none on Wednesday, as processors scramble to stay on top of the catch. Fish that aren’t processed in Sitka are tendered elsewhere — to Ketchikan and Petersburg, for instance — an added expense that cuts into the final price paid to fishermen.
This year’s price remains unclear, but is thought to be low due to an oversupply in Asia, the primary market for sac roe. Some of the 48 permit holders emerging from a closed meeting last week expressed concern over the amount of uncertainty in the price for this year’s fishery.
Sunday’s second opener now brings the total catch this year to 10,300 tons so far — with only 6,000 tons left to go to the harvest limit.
So far, Gordon said he has seen no active spawning in his daily aerial surveys. Last year, and even more so in 2012, large areas of spawn began to develop just as the commercial fishery was getting started. As a result, the fleet undershot its harvest goal significantly both years.