The Sitka Sound Sac Roe Herring fishery’s first opening lasted about 3-hours and brought in an estimated 1,500 tons. 48 boats fished the opening which began at 3 p.m. and closed at 6:05 p.m.Wednesday.
The fishery has been on 2-hour notice effective 11:00 a.m., March 25. That morning the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game conducted a vessel survey aboard the R/V Kestrel. This survey covered areas north of Sitka including along the road system up to Old Sitka Rocks, the waters west of Crow Island and along the Kruzof Island shoreline south of Inner Point. The island passes south of Middle Island were also surveyed. A very large body of herring was seen west of Bieli Rock along with a number of large schools seen offshore southeast of Inner Point. Scattered schools were also seen in shallower waters in the Crow Pass area, within the smaller islands south of Middle Island, and around the south and west sides of Kasiana Island. No herring or spawn were seen during the morning aerial survey. Two test samples were taken today with the following results: NW Bieli Rock; 10 tons; 10.7% mature roe; 3.1% immature roe; 172 gram; 53% female. SE of Inner Point; 100 tons; 9.8% mature roe; 2.1% immature roe; 153 gram; 47% female.
The ADF&G reports the final guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2013 Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery is 11,549 tons. This is approximately 500 tons greater than the preliminary GHL announced in December 2012. This adjustment is based on the winter test fishery sample results showing generally larger average weights-at-age this winter compared to 2012.
The herring roe is sold to the Japanese market. Last year’s catch brought permit holders an estimated $8.5 million.