Local News

Sitka herring fleet stands down, will resume search on Saturday

The Sitka sac roe herring fleet stood down at 3:50 PM today (Fri 3-28-14) after a long, frustrating search for a marketable volume of fish — and will try again tomorrow.

State biologist Dave Gordon, who oversees the fishery, did not seem too discouraged by the fleet’s inability to locate sufficient herring to open seining.

Volunteer boats and aircraft made test sets between Kruzof and Crow islands, but the largest schools of herring identified were estimated to be no larger than several hundred tons.

This year’s sac roe fishery has 2,950 tons remaining on its harvest target of over 16,000 tons. Gordon hopes to harvest that amount in a fourth and final opening.

Gordon told the fleet via VHF radio that he thought there might be another good opportunity developing to the north of town tomorrow. He was also going to ask boats to continue test fishing to the south.

He said the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s research vessel Kestrel would sail at 6:30 AM, and report on early sampling by 7 AM.

The 48 permit holders in the sac roe fleet target masses of herring that are at least 10-percent mature roe by weight. The fish are harvested prior to spawning.

So far, spawning activity remains isolated to a relatively small area on the south side of Middle Island. The length of shoreline covered by herring spawn has expanded to 3.8 miles.

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