(KCAW/Berett Wilber)

The Sitka Sound Sac Roe Herring Fishery is winding down, and state biologists expect to close the fishery soon.

In an interview on Thursday (4-8-21), Area Management Biologist Aaron Dupuis said the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is shifting out of “active management” mode. 

“We’re still going out there. We’re flying, we’re monitoring the commercial fishery. We’re not leaving it alone to do its thing,” he said. “So we’re definitely on top of this, but it’s for sure winding down. I’d expect it to go another day or two tops.” 

Dupuis said the bulk of the fishing fleet has left Sitka. Fewer than three processors and three permit-holders are still participating, but due to confidentiality rules, Dupuis could not disclose the exact number. As of April 6, the commercial fishing fleet had harvested around 15,700 tons of herring.

Now the department’s energy is shifting toward the subsistence harvest and data collection. He said the ADF&G has started mapping spawning activity in Sitka Sound in a big way. 

“It held off for a long time. And we saw this back in the mid-2000s when we had some cold springs, where the spawn held off and held off, and then it went off big. And that’s what we’re seeing right now,” said Dupuis.

“The spatial distribution of it right now is going off all the way from Windy Pass area down to Shoals Point,” he said. “All the islands out in front of town are getting it. Our nice short flights that we had earlier on in the season are no more. We’re up for a couple hours.”

So far ADF&G has mapped over 33 cumulative miles of spawn during aerial surveys.