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Herring Update: Fishing at 2:30PM in Eastern Channel

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released this map, showing where fishing is allowed in today's herring opening. (Map courtesy of ADF&G)

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released this map, showing where fishing is allowed in today’s herring opening. (Map courtesy of ADF&G)

There will be herring fishing today near the south end of Sitka’s road system.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has announced a third opening in the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, to begin at 2:30 p.m. today, in Eastern Channel. The two previous openings, on Sunday and last Thursday, had taken place north of Sitka, in Starrigavan and Katlian bays.

Fish & Game biologist Dave Gordon said the fishery will aim to harvest about 3,000 tons. That’s a smaller opening than the Department had hoped for. Gordon had initially said he hoped to catch the final 6,500 tons left in this year’s harvest limit in one opening. But during his 11 a.m. update today, he said that a large volume of herring had moved into the closure area, a stretch of water near town that is out of bounds to the commercial fishery to protect subsistence use.

Instead, the fishery will target smaller schools of herring scattered throughout the waters south of town, Gordon said.

Despite the smaller volumes, “I feel compelled to provide this opportunity,” Gordon said, given the quality of fish seen in samples.

ADF&G also revised their counts from the previous two openings, on Sunday and last Thursday. Fish & Game now estimates the fleet has caught a total of about 9,800 tons of herring so far this year, out of a total harvest limit of 16,333 tons.

Gordon said that an aerial survey this morning found a few hundred yards of herring spawn on Middle Island; no other spawn was seen. In the sac roe fishery, the eggs are taken intact from the females. It’s critical to the success of the commercial harvest to land the fish prior to spawning.

Fish & Game will continue to issue updates over the radio, on VHF Channel 10.

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