An area of active herring spawn from Saturday’s aerial survey (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

The Sitka Sound herring continue to spawn, though in spots rather than long stretches of coastline. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is conducting daily aerial surveys. The cumulative spawn mileage to date is 57 nautical miles.

The active spawn – visible as milky pools tucked into shorelines and inlets – is fairly scattered across Sitka Sound. “This year’s spawn is definitely coming a little more chopped up. It’s just day after day of spawn and a lot of time, it’s very minimal spawn,” said Eric Coonradt, fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

Last week, ADF&G saw stretches – measuring 1 to 1.5 miles – in Eastern and Promisla Bay, around Middle Island, Siganaka Island, Kasiana Island, and Hayward Strait near Brent’s Beach and Kresta Point.

This weekend, active spawn was noted in new areas. Between Saturday and yesterday (04-18-17), ADF&G tracked 14 miles in Sukoi Inlet, Shoals Point, and parts of Salisbury Sound and Olga Strait. The department also observed groups of sea lions and whales, meaning there may be more spawn to come.

Coonradt said, “I think when it’s all said and done, we’ll be looking at a decent spawn. We’re still seeing lots of predators out there, which suggest we have pre-spawn herring schools milling about.”

Last year, the active spawn measured 63 nautical miles and spawning ended on April 8th. A recent ten-year-average for Sitka Sound is 65 nautical miles.

Final totals from the Sitka Sound herring fishery are also in. The fleet harvested 13,883 tons of their 14,700 ton quota this season. On average, roughly eleven percent of the fish had mature roe.

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery was conducted in four batches last month, the last as a controlled fishery. The fleet’s season quota was 14,700 tons. (Table courtesy of ADF&G)