April 4, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 14

Sitka herring winding down

The Sitka Sound Herring fishery total harvest to date is approximately 5,600 tons leaving just under 6,000 tons remaining to be harvested of the season’s 11,549-ton guideline harvest level, according to a news release from the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

Major spawning in Sitka Sound began on March 28 and peaked on March 31 with 28.2 nm of shoreline with active spawn. On April 2, active spawn included 6.6 nm of shoreline indicating the major spawning event is concluding. The total cumulative shoreline with spawn documented to date is 42 nm. Over the past several days, the presence of heavy spawn has resulted in the inability to identify an area with sufficient good quality roe herring to prosecute a competitive fishery.

On April 2, permit holders agreed to a cooperative style fishery in an effort to continue making progress in harvesting additional roe herring. The cooperative fishery will open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily, starting Wednesday, April 3. The area open will include all waters of the Sitka Sound herring sac roe regulatory area which includes Section 13-B north of Aspid Cape and Section 13-A south of Point Kakul.

The large area will allow permit holders to survey all areas to identify whether additional unspawned herring are present in the area. Under the cooperative agreement harvesting will occur under targeted total allotments to be divided between permit holders with the first allotment target of 480 tons or 10 tons/permit holder. Additional allotments will be provided depending upon the results of each allotment. The department will be closely monitoring the fishery and will impose closures if necessary to avoid excessive catch and release of poor quality herring.

The R/V Kestrel will depart Sitka today to return to its home-port in Petersburg and will return next week to begin spawn deposition surveys.

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