The commercial herring harvest in Sitka Sound so far is nearing 10,000 tons.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game estimates that seiners had landed about 9,000 tons through Wednesday, March 30. On Thursday seine nets were in the water from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with no estimate yet of the amount of herring caught.
The guideline harvest level set by the state this year is over 45,000 tons, but it’s likely that the fishery will conclude far short of that target.
Commercial seining has been focused on Hayward Strait, north through the Magoun(ma-GOON) Islands. The Department of Fish & Game has closed waters within 200 yards of the mean high tide line along the eastern shoreline of Kruzof Island just opposite Pt. Brown, where subsistence sets of hemlock branches have been set.
Conditions for the aerial survey on Thursday were “adequate,” according to the Department of Fish & Game, with periods of rain and snow obscuring predator activity. The largest concentrations of whales were seen near Goddard Hot Springs, and in Hayward Strait. Biologists observed 5.3 nautical miles of active spawning on Wednesday, primarily along Kruzof Island, and in the vicinity of Crow Pass and Middle Island, and another 11.9 miles on Thursday. Cumulative spawn so far totals 15.6 miles.