Herring have begun spawning in Sitka Sound.

On Wednesday (3-25-20), the Alaska Department of Fish And Game observed the first spawn of the season- around 5 miles of spawn down Shoals Point, past St. Lazaria Island, and a quarter-mile stretch  of spawn on the east side of Big Gavanski Island.

In an interview with KCAW, state management biologist Aaron Dupuis said the research vessel Kestrel left Sitka Wednesday morning after a week of observing the herring population.

He said the research team observed two big masses of herring over the past couple of days, one west of Bieli Rock and one north of Vitskari Rock, both in deep waters.

This is around the same time they saw the first spawn last year. Dupuis said it was too early to determine the age class of the schools, but said the herring appeared healthy.

The commercial fishery isn’t happening this year, after processors decided not to participate, citing poor market conditions and a forecast run of small fish. Subsistence harvesters will still collect eggs in the coming weeks. 

ADF&G will continue aerial survey mapping as long as the herring are spawning.